This weekend saw athletes take to Sutton Park for the iconic National Road Relays, as well as the first of the UK’s major marathons in 2023. James Rhodes brings you the best of the action of a busy couple of days.

Speedy in Sutton Park

The ERRA National Road Relays made a welcome return to Sutton Park in Birmingham on Saturday. It was a good day for Leeds and Central AC, who took the women’s six-stage and men’s 12-stage titles respectively.

The winning Leeds team comprised Camilla Mcknespiey, Eleanor Curran, Alice Leake, Heather Townsend, Steph Pennycook and Jennifer Walsh. They finished over 90 seconds clear of Thames Valley Harrier. Yvie Lock, Alex Mundell, Lisa Dasilva, Tracy Barlow, Emily Carroll and Kate Olding ran well to secure silver, with Olding the fastest runner on the final leg. Salford Harriers finished third.

Running on the first leg, Georgie Grgec of Herne Hill recorded the fastest long leg (28:34). Gemma Steel of Charnwood (16:41) was quickest on the shorter leg, running on leg 2. Alice Leake (Leeds, 17:59), Lauren Heyes (Hallamshire, 28:59), Kate Axford (Belgrave, 16:44) and Kate Olding (TVH, 17:30) were fastest on legs three to six respectively.

Gemma Steel. Photo: Mark Hookway

Stars Assemble

The men’s field saw some of Britain’s best athletes travel to Birmingham, including Olympic Champion triathlete Alex Yee, Marc Scott and Andy Butchart.

The trip from Scotland was worthwhile for Central AC, who took the lead on the penultimate leg through Jamie Crowe. Running last, Alastair Marshall did not relinquish the team, with the team finishing in 4:09:54. Ben McMillan, Dale Colley, Tom Grahammarr, Matthew Sutherland, Cameron Milne, Alastair Hay, Luca Fanottoli, Calum Phillip, Andy Butchart and Hamish Hickey completed their team.

Highgate and Kent finished in second and third respectively. Andy Butchart recorded the fastest long leg for Central (24:57), one second quicker than Kent’s Alex Yee (24:58). Hamish Hickey’s 15:07 was the fastest short leg.

Photo: Mark Hookway

Marathon Season Begins

Contrary to popular belief outside of running circles, the London Marathon is not the sole race over 26.2 miles. Sunday saw athletes take to the streets of Manchester, Newport and Boston in search of a fast marathon.

As the largest race of the weekend in terms of entries, it seems fair to start at the Manchester Marathon. Lithuanian Ignas Brasevicius took the victory with 2:16:27. The World and European Championship representative had run alongside Kieran Walker for much of the race; the pair recording the same splits at the 10k, halfway and 30k points. However, a decisive move after 23 miles was unmatched and saw him finish over a minute clear. Finishing second, Walker (2:17:30) improved his lifetime best by over two minutes, the prior run in Manchester last year. Ollie Lockley finished third (2:20:47), having run with the leaders for over half the race.

There was a clear victory for Naomi Mitchell in the women’s race. She started with some speed, reaching halfway in 73:04. The early pace took its toll over the latter miles, with 1:46:14 split at 30k. A finishing time of 2:31:27 is the second fastest of her career. Swede Malin Starfelt (2:36:44) and Georgie Bruinvels (2:38:22) completed the top-three, the latter only a minute shy of her PB.

Boston (Not That One)

Billing itself as the flattest marathon in the country, the Boston Marathon took place a day before its American namesake. Johanna Oregan (2:50:21) and Richard Ollington (2:30:00) took advantage of the course and good conditions to take wins. The women’s podium was completed by Stacey Hawkins (2:57:29) and Nicola Stevenson (3:02:17), whilst Chris Davies (2:33:26) and John Hudson (2:37:41) rounded out the men’s top-three.

It was a great day for Dan Nash, as the Cardiff athlete took his first victory at the Newport Marathon. Having run with 2021 winner Adam Bowden for much of the race, he moved clear in the closing stages to finish in 02:19:46. That time bettered the course record. Bowden finished in 02:20:31, with Simon Nott third (02:24:40).

Dan Nash wins the ABP Newport Marathon

Fellow Welsh athlete Lizzie Dimond won the women’s race, crossing the line in 2:49:36. It was a case of deja-vu for Melissah Gibson finishing second (02:54:40), having finished in the same position in 2021. The top-three was completed by Megan Williams (03:00:32).

Finally, Lee Rogers (2:53:25) retained his title at the Kent Spring Marathon, organised by Nice Work. Maria Hjorth (3:37:45) was the fastest female. Honours in the associated half marathon went to Delia Beddis (92:24) and Marshall Smith (75:42).

Halving the Distance

It’s not all about the marathon this weekend; some chose instead to race over 13.1 miles. They included Thomas Sargeant (72:26) and Anya Culling (74:41) who ran well to take victories at the Boston Half Marathon. Anna Keenan (96:50) and Tom Bacon (82:12) did the same at the Cannock Chase Half Marathon, run on trails. Alongside were races over 10k and 5k. Paul Bradshaw (36:19) and Amy Hadley (43:27) were quickest in the former, Tess Alfrink (19:26) and Ashley Crawford (18:48) in the latter.

Meanwhile the Seaford Martello Half Marathon was won by Graeme Mcintosh (1:24:40) and Jemma Crawford (1:51:57).

Amazing Abbie

Abbie Donnelly had one of the best runs of her career in taking a second consecutive victory at the City of Lincoln 10k. Her time of 31:42 is a significant improvement, her previous best being 32:51 run on the same course. It also moves her to equal eleventh on the UK all-time list for 10k.

Behind there were good performances for Laura Kaye (35:38) and Katie Harbon (35:49).

Just one second separated the top men, with Jordan Skelly (30:19) just getting the better of Lewis Jagger (30:20). Daniel Haymes (30:41) finished third.

There were fast times at the Newport 10k also. Omar Ahmed continued his winning ways in Wales, clocking 28:35 – a new course record. Shaun Antell (30:11) and Mike Ward (30:29) completed the podium. The women’s race saw the fastest Welsh marathoners in history finish one-two. Natasha Cockram (33:27) just getting the better of Clara Evans (33:35) and Megan Davis (34:01).

Natasha Cockram, Clara Evans & Megan Davis at the ABP Newport Wales 10k.

Crossing to Scotland and the Jim Dingwall Round the Houses 10K in Grangemouth, which also incorporated the British Masters Championships. Jennifer Whetton (35:48) finished almost a minute ahead of Natalie Wangler (36:37) and Michelle Sandison (36:43). In the men’s field, Daniel Bradford recorded a commanding win (31:03) ahead of Gregor Yates (31:32) and Grate Baillie (31:38).

More 10 Races

Organised by Harwich Runners, the Little Bromley 10k provided wins for Clare Jacobs (35:42) and Oliver Randall (31:32). Staying with races beginning with a ‘L’. Callum Hanlon (31:38) and Megan Stenhouse (36:33) won Leicester’s Big 10k whilst the Lightning Bolt 10k in Langley Burrell went to Amber Gascoigne (35:55) and Christian Green (32:15).

There were wins for Thomas Webb (34:02) and Emily Smith (39:39) at the Flitwick 10k. In London’s Regent’s Park, The One in The Park saw Tim Jones (35:20) and Lucy Marlow (40:18) finish first. On the other side of the River Thames, the RunThrough Battersea Park 10k was claimed by Nicolas Besson (32:36) and Shanad Williams (34:28). Eliza Nicholson (16:41) and Felix Vaughan (15:57) won the associated 5k.

Staying with RunThrough, Helen Ansell (39:49) and Cameron Hannon (33:39) won the Tatton Park 10k. The associated 5k went to Rob Courtney (18:27) and Angela Oldham (23:27). Taking place alongside the marathon, there were victories for Kristian Watson (31:36) and Nicola Curtis (37:16) at the Boston 10k.

Flying through some of the other 10k results now. There were wins for Adam Stokes (33:09) and Katrina Entwistle (38:16) at the Frenchay 10k, Lisa Gawthorne (38:03) and Ben Taylor (34:17) at the Mersey Tunnel 10k and Gavin Stuart (34:06) and Millie Hannant (38:11) at the Rhyl 10k. Earlier in the week, Ben Whyte (36:10) and Elizabeth Nguyen (38:00) took the honours at the London Easter 10k in Regent’s Park. Also on Monday, the Stanwick 10k went to Alice Belcher (35:56) and David Hudson (32:37).

The Vale of York 10 went to Georgina Weston (64:50) and Edward Hobbs (54:41), with the 5 mile race taken by Jordan Howe (25:25) and Julie Briscoe (30:09). Daniel Floyd (57:09) and Caroline Warrington (66:21) won the Cathedral to Castle 10 Mile, routing from Lichfield to Tamworth.

Shorter Stuff

Fancy a five kilometre or five mile race? You’re in luck! Jack Pickett (15:04) and Beth Tabor (18:32) won the Fordhouses 5k, whilst the Tavy 5k went to Nikki Kelly (18:02) and Jim Cole (15:45). James Baker (16:41) and Cassie Thorp (17:59) crossed the line first at the Gosport 5k; Carla Davies (17:09) and Joe Sherman (14:52) did the same at the York 5k.

The five mile round up now. There were victories at the Chester Spring 5 for Ed Shepherd (25:08) and Tracy Rogers (30:02). Conall McClean (25:12) and Catherine O’Connor (30:28) took the Whitehead Easter Monday 5, the latter in a Course Record. The St Andrews 5 went to David Webster (25:51) and Rhona Van Rensburg (30:58), the Beaconsfield 5 to Jessica Downs (33:45) and Harry Pettingell (28:55), and the Run in the Forest 5 to Ashley Hurdman (27:04) and Abigail Halcarz (29:54).

In the States

Plenty of PBs were on the menu at the Bryan Clay Invitational in California between Thursday and Saturday. In the 10000m there were bests for Cameron Allan (28:37.09), Joe Hudson (29:16.77), Scott Nutter (29:17.86), Edward Buck (29:25.56) and Isaac Akers (29:37.08). Max Milarvie recorded 29:30.44. Caitlin Wosika (34:12.30) recorded a PB also.

Bella Williams (15:43.23 PB) and Thomas George (13:35.85) were the quickest Brits at 5000m. Over shorter distances, there were lifetime bests for Joseph Rogers (3:48.65) and Amelie Attenborough (4:30.64) for 1500m.

There were encouraging results in the 3000m steeplechase also. Elise Thorner recorded the third fastest of her career to win (9:39.39), whilst Maisie Grice became the 22nd British woman to run inside 10 minutes (9:53.79 PB).

Also in California were the Mt Sac Relays. Oliver Way (29:51.63), Lauren Charlton (35:04.69) and Mollie Scott (35:21.14) set PBs over 10,000m. There were good 1500m runs for Arlo Ludewick (3:44.02) Daniel Brookling (3:47.04 PB) and Jodie Judd (4:35.56). Finally, a PB and Croydon Harriers Club Record for Stevie Lawrence (10:03.95) in the steeplechase.

Elsewhere, Leo Cossham recorded his second ever sub-four minutes 1500m at the UCM Mule Relays in Missouri, clocking 3:59.51.

Lizzie Bird finished second (4:42) in the B.A.A Invitational Mile, held two days prior to the Boston Marathon.

Ending with the Longest

This week’s round up concludes with the longest races. There was an excellent victory for Elsey Davis at Istria Ultra in Croatia. Racing over 42.1km and taking in almost 1km of elevation gain, she finished in 3:18:31, almost four minutes clear of the rest of the field. Harry Jones was in the 100k race, which covered 3860m of elevation gain, finishing in 10:16:59. Andrew Davies took third in the 61k, clocking 5:37:55.

Carla Molinaro finished third at the Totalsports Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in South Africa, covering 56km. Her time of 3:41:38 was 12 minutes off the winner, South African Gerda Steyn. Robbie Simpson finished 19th (3:20:13) amongst the men racing.

Finally, there were some impressive distances covered in the Crawley 24 Hour Track Race in, you guessed it, Crawley. The furthest distance was covered by Gareth Pritchard, covering an impressive 257.926km. That equates to just shy of 645 laps of the track and is a Welsh Record (and PB). Sophie Power’s 235.739km was the best result amongst the women competing, and arguably the best performance of the day. It is a significant PB for the Guildford athlete.