An epic weekend of racing including fast times in Valencia and long distances in Taiwan. James Rhodes brings you the highlights in the (slightly delayed) weekend round up.

Vamos Valencia

Its reputation grows year-on-year as one of the fastest marathon courses, and this year’s edition of the Valencia Marathon was no different. Close to perfect weather conditions helped to deliver an excellent day for British distance running. On a morning filled with noteworthy performances, it is hard to know who to lead with. Clara Evans seems a fair person to start with. In a race of considerable depth, she finished 20th in 2:25:04. That time improves her PB by over four minutes and breaks Natasha Cockram’s Welsh Record, set on the same course last year. It moves her to seventh on the British all-time list.

Just behind was Lily Partridge (2:25:12), who also improved her PB by over four minutes in her first marathon since 2019. She sits eighth on the British all-time list as a result. Both were comfortably inside the Olympic qualifying time of 2:26:50.

Sonia Samuels’ time of 2:28:09 is her fastest since 2015 and just four seconds shy of her longstanding PB. Lauren Heyes (2:31:33) and Tessa McCormick (2:33:48) made encouraging marathon debuts, whilst Leila Armoush (2:33:25) improved her PB by almost six minutes.

Mahamed & Phil Excel

In the men’s field, Mahamed Mahamed had an excellent debut over 26.2 miles, finishing in 2:08:42. He had run for much of the race alongside Phil Sesemann, moving away in the closing kilometre. Phil improved his PB by over 90 seconds to 2:08:49, running inside 2:10 for the first time. Both fell just short of the Olympic standard of 2:08:10, but move to seventh and eighth respectively on the British all-time list. The top-ten of that has had a considerable shake up this year, thanks also to Emile Cairess’ 2:08:07 in London in April.

Behind, Dan Nash improved his lifetime best by 12 seconds to 2:15:22, having run alongside the leading women for much of the race – garnering much TV coverage. Chris Perry clocked a fine 2:16:28 on his debut.

The races were won by Sisay Lemma (2:01:48) and Worknesh Degefa (2:15:51) The pair become the fourth and seventh fastest athletes in history, respectively. Also noteworthy was Kenenisa Bekele improved his own Masters World Record to 2:04:19.

Photo: Valencia Marathon Trinidad Alfonso

A Whole Day Running

If you think a marathon is a daunting sounding task, it’s nothing compared to running for a whole day (and night). That is exactly what some of the world’s best ultra-runners were doing in Taipei at the IAU 24 Hour World Championships. Amongst them were a strong British team, including Fast Running’s editor Robbie Britton.

Facing wet and breezy weather, plus cooler temperatures than expected, athletes took on a 2km loop at the first edition of the championships since pre-COVID.

The men’s team rallied well to win bronze. It is only the second time the men’s team have won a team medal, after taking gold in 2015. The combined distance of the top-three athletes for each country contributed, with the British trio of Danny Hawkins, Daniel Lawson and Robbie Britton covering a combined 771.794km.

Danny finished highest individually, in tenth, covering 261.384km. He was followed by Daniel in 16th (256.410km) with Robbie 20th (254.000km). Behind, Paul Maskell and Damien Carr finished 24th and 31st, covering 247.384km and 239.384km respectively. Alex Whearity withdrew overnight but covered 188.000km.

Four women entered, with Sophie Power competing for the full time period. She finished 19th having run a total of 227.285km. Overnight, Samantha Amend (174.000km), Jennifer Coleman (156.000km) and Eloise Eccles (108.000km withdrew).

Photo: Geoff Lowe

Indoor Begins

The famed-magic track at Boston University played host to the Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener  on Saturday. In his first race since March, Sam Atkin had an excellent outing to finish in 13:06.66. That time is  three seconds shy of his PB and just one second off the Olympic qualifying time of 13:05.00. James West had an encouraging run also, his 13:22.98 a near-20 second improvement on his PB. Such an improvement is perhaps not unexpected, given his previous best was in torrid conditions at the British Championships. It is also a Tonbridge AC Record.

Hannah Nuttall (15:17.84) ran fantastically to move to fourth on the British all-time list indoors. It is also just a second off her outright best from Berlin in September. India Weir (15:55.53) and Maisie Grice (16:11.70) set outright PBs also.

On the Roads

It was a good weekend if you wanted to race 10k in London. The fastest times came at Sri Chimnoy’s Grizzly Bear 10k in Battersea Park on Saturday, thanks to Kurt Wilkinson (31:43) and Lucy Reid (33:36). Sophie Cowper (36:53) and Sam Coxon (33:12) were victorious at Saturday’s Victoria Park 10k. The associated 5k went to Ziad Wattar (16:59) and Grace Fisher (19:39). The West London 10k saw Elias Ahmed (31:53) and Torzi Robinson (41:10) cross the line first.

On Sunday morning, Charles Mason (33:45) and Anna Lawson (37:28) won the Regent’s Park 10k organised by Mornington Chasers. Earlier in the week, Hugo Donovan (31:27) and Laura Boehm (36:08) won the RunThrough Chase the Moon Batterse Park 10k.

Finally, the Richmond Christmas 10k provided victories for Conall Mcnally (35:27) and Sarah Monger Godfrey (44:50). Amy Valentin (23:28) and Rodrigo Mattiuz (20:08) won the associated 5k.

Elsewhere, Carla Davies (35:02) and Tim Raynes (32:09) recorded victories at the Blackburn 10k. Meanwhile Michael Towler (32:37) and Bethan Francis (36:59) won the Bromham Pudding 10k.

A couple of Christmas-themed races organised by Nice Work took place also. Hugo Philbrow (37:50) and Ingrid Linn (44:24) won the Chatham Dockyard Christmas 10k. Katy Lavender (24:13) and Olmo Velayos Hernando (17:59) finished first in the associated 5k. Further north, there were wins for Gemma Wootton (53:29) and Oliver Stone (41:38) at the trail-based Cannock Chase Forest Christmas 10K. The half-distance race went to Lee Francis (21:59) and Wendy Swift (23:26).

Matty Fraga Martinez (35:47) and Ellie Monk (47:57) were victorious at the Carsington Water 10k, organised by RunThrough. The associated half marathon saw Rachel Lloyd (90:07) and Nicholas Dennis (76:13) finish quickest.

Longer Distances

Valencia was not hosting the only marathon of the day. Daniel Beazley (2:45:22) was the quickest of 14 runners who clocked sub-three at the Running GP at Goodwood Motor Circuit. Miyuki Okubo (3:03:20) was the fastest female over the 26.2 mile distance.

In the shorter distances, Kayleigh Oldfield (84:44) and Jake Bowles (72:27) won the half marathon, Jason Baker (33:03) and Natasha Cooper-Smith (39:28) the 10k and Annabel Wallond (18:18) and Jon Fairs (16:54) the 5k.

The Victoria Park Half Marathon, another RunThrough race, provided wins to Oliver Carrington (70:11) and Imy Briscoe (83:25). Vanessa Fursden (1:41:53) and Ben Phillips (1:31:50) crossed the line first at the Mapledurham Half Marathon. James Cobb (39:09) and Susan Francis (47:43) won the associated 10k.

Racing over five miles, there were wins for Matt Sharp (23:50) and Steph McCall (27:57) at the Victory 5 in Portsmouth, and Michael Eccles (26:04) and Julie Triou (30:21) at Ealing Southall & Middlesex AC’s Perivale 5.

In the Mud

Cross country season continues at pace. The always-popular English Schools XC was held in Woodbridge in Suffolk and delivered strong racing. The senior boys race saw James Dargan (18:33) continue his fine year to win from Quinn Miell-ingram (18:42) and Alex Poulston (19:02). Rebecca Flaherty (14:24) was a clear winner in the senior girls race, with Beth Rogers (14:35) and Amelie Lane (14:37) completing the podium.

Photo: Mark Hookway

Olivia Forrest and Tom Thake won the respective inter-categories, whilst the junior races went to Barney Smith and Olivia Murphy.

The third fixture of the Met League took place in Uxbridge (affectionately known as “the one with the stream in it”). The senior men’s race saw Alex Lepretre of Highgate Harriers take his second consecutive victory. He finished ahead of clubmate Roger Poolman with Herts Phoenix’s Oscar Bell in third. Annabel Gummow of Herts Phoenix won the senior women’s race with the top-three completed by London Heathside’s Rebecca Piggott and Hana Blake of Thames Valley Harriers. Jorja March of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and Luke Dunham of Herts Phoenix won the respective junior races.

Cambridge took individual wins for both genders at the annual Oxford & Cambridge Varsity Match. Held in Wimbledon Common, Phoebe Barker secured a Cambridge win in the ladies race. Oxford completed the podium thanks to Elizabeth Apsley and Naomi Kingston. The men’s race saw Jeremy Dempsey and Joe Massingham finish first and second for Cambridge, with Oxford’s Alexander Gruen third.

In the Scottish Mud

In Scotland, three venues played host to the Lindsays District XC Champs. Almost 2,000 athletes entered across the three events, held in Aberdeen (East), Elgin (North) and Strathaven (West).

In Aberdeen, the senior men’s race provided considerable star power. Racing over 8.6k, the podium comprised Central AC pair Jamie Crowe (25:40) and Andy Butchart (26:08) alongside Kris Jones of Dundee Hawkhill Harriers (26:22). Unexpectedly, Central AC took the team honours.

Kirsty Walker of Edinburgh AC was a clear winner of the senior women’s race over the same distance (30:37). Lasswade AC’s Lauren Dickson (31:19) and Claire Bruce of Metro Aberdeen (31:23) completed the top-three. Aberdeen took the team victory.

Duncan Robinson (22:55) and Eve Mackinnon (26:48) won the senior races in Strathaven, over 7.5k. They run for Giffnock North and Cambuslang Harriers respectively. Finally, in Elgin, Catriona Graves of Highland Hill Runners won the senior women’s race over 8k in 30:06. Ross Gollan (East Sutherland) won the senior men’s race over the same distance (26:36).

Finally, across the pond, Charles Hicks and Ellie Leather finished fourth and eleventh respectively in the Sound Running Cross Champs in Texas on Thursday.