It has been a busy weekend, with the autumn road season in full swing and the inaugural World Road Running Championships taking place in Latvia. Let James Rhodes take you through some of the racing highlights of the past few days.

Road Racing in Riga

The Latvian capital of Riga played host to the first ever World Road Running Championships on Sunday. Some of the world’s best middle- and long-distance athletes took to the streets to race over the half marathon, 5k and one mile. They were joined by the masses in standalone races on the same courses.

From a British perspective, the highlight of the event came in the men’s mile. In just his second race in a Great Britain vest, Callum Elson took a fantastic silver in 3:56.41. With the road mile in its infancy as an official record event, that time is both a British and European Record. It was also a significant PB for the Cambridge & Coleridge athlete, his previous best of 4:08 set at the trials for Riga in Newcastle last month.

The race was won by American Hobbs Kessler in a new World Record of 3:56.13. There’s British connections for Hobbs too, having spent some time training with Brighton Phoenix in recent years.

Sarah McDonald finished sixteenth in the women’s mile (4:40.14). It is great to see Sarah back representing her country after a tough few years with injury. The race saw the biggest surprise of the day with Diribe Welteji (4:20.98) beating Faith Kipyegon to gold and the World Record. Kipyegon took bronze with Freweyni Hailu silver.

There were top-ten finishes for both Verity Ockenden and Scott Beattie in the 5k, the pair setting PBs in the process. Verity ran 15:18 to finish eighth and improve her best by eight seconds. Meanwhile, Scott finished ninth in the men’s field with 13:32. Beatrice Chebet (14:35) and Hagos Gebrhiwet (12:59) won the respective races.

Success in the Half

The half marathon was the last race of the day’s action in Riga and continued to provide success for the British team.

The women’s race saw two Brits finish inside the top ten, led by Calli Thackery. She finished seventh in 68:56, a lifetime best. She was followed by former training partner Samantha Harrison, who crossed the finish in ninth 69:26. Clara Evans (70:53) and Abbie Donnelly (71:08) raced well to secure the team bronze medal.

The men’s team finished seventh overall, with the race won by Sebastian Sawe in 59:10. The top six all ran inside sixty minutes. Mahamed Mahamed was the leading Brit, finishing 27th in 61:33. He was closely followed by Jack Rowe, six seconds back finishing 30th. Jonny Mellor improved his PB to 61:59 in 34th.

Riga provides a nice segway to the Cardiff Half Marathon, an event which has previously hosted the World Half Marathon Championships. This year’s edition saw Mestawut Fikir (68:13) and Vincent Mutai (60:35) add their names to the winners list.

The leading British performance in the men’s field came from Paulos Surafel (64:35) who finished eleventh. He was closely followed by Mo Aadan (64:43) in twelfth and Sean Hogan (65:56) in thirteenth. According to Power of 10, Sean’s previous best was 68:55, set in 2020, and so a considerable improvement.

Sonia Samuels (72:35) finished seventh overall in the women’s field, continuing her excellent form after a 10km PB in London last weekend. She was followed by Beth Kidger, who’s 74:11 placed her ninth and provided a two-minute improvement on her debut from Hastings in March. Anna Bracegirdle (74:43) was the third Brit to finish, in tenth.

Super Scots

The ever-popular Great Scottish Run delivered a largely domestic elite field this year, but still provided some excellent performances.

The highlight of the morning’s racing came from Natasha Phillips in winning the half marathon. The European and British U20 Record Holder finished an impressive seven minutes clear of the rest of the field, clocking 72:13. That time is almost a minute outside her PB, set in Antrim in August. However, it is just the third half marathon of her career. The podium was completed by Nynke Mullohand-Stummer (79:30) and Shona Mcintosh (80:36).

The men’s field saw Jamie Crowe (64:50) continue his fine year with a decisive victory ahead of Tom Martin (66:59) and Alastair Hay (67:25). That time was just two seconds shy of Jamie’s best for the distance in 2023.

In the Great Scottish 10k, there were victories for Lewis Hannigan (31:27) and Lily Partridge (33:08). Fraser Gilmour (31:44), Steven Murray (32:36), Josie Wren Golder (36:14) and Jill Cox (37:53) completed the respective top-three placings. Lily has shown excellent consistency over the past couple of years for the distance, having clocked 33:02 and 33:03.

Dropping the Distance

In her first race of 2023, Jess Piasecki (33:07) was a clear winner at the Knutsford 10k, with the top three completed by Martha Tibbot (35:09) and Kirsty Longley (35:43). There was an encouraging 29:45 for Callum Hawkins to win the men’s field. That is his fastest since January 2020 and his second race of the year. He is entered for the Valencia Marathon in December. Andrew Davies (31:07) was second with Frankie Conway (31:18) third.

Gateshead Callum Johnson’s took a comfortable win at the Jarrow 10k (29:31), finishing over a minute ahead of Joe Armstrong (30:39) and Lawrence McCourt (30:48). Sophie Pikett (35:29) was the fastest female by a similar margin, with Jasmin Wood (36:41) second and Louise Mitchell (37:49) third.

Steeplechase specialist Mark Pearce ran his first 10k in six years at the Abbots Langley George Harrison Tough 10k, taking victory in 33:08. Rachel Felton (37:06) was the fastest female, whilst Gina Luckhurst (19:35) and Oliver Cooper (16:45) won the associated 5k.

Ben Jones (32:12) and Rebecca White (40:33) won the Abington 10k, Jo Vickers (40:09) and Alix Ramsier (33:48) the Tonbridge 10k, and Ben Hadman (32:41) and Katie Harbon (36:25) the Standalone 10k in Letchworth Garden City. There were wins for Martin Lucas (34:01) and Jess Kordecki (43:44) at the Tatton 10k, with Elinor Yates (18:47) and Elliot Wood-Neynell (17:02) taking the associated 5k.

Elsewhere, Hassan Ahdich (32:46) and Emily Carr (39:23) recorded victories at the Run for All Bury 10k. Hassan took 32 seconds off his lifetime best set in Ipswich in May. The Southend 10k provided Jack Nixon (31:11) and Lizzie Wellsted (33:44) with wins. The latter took over half a minute off her lifetime best in the process.

Still Going!

Other victories included for Jack Chennell (34:15) and Amber Iester (38:12) at the Run Leicester 10k, Robert Bowen (40:40) and Sydne Langbridge (47:53) at the Richmond Park Run 10k, and Bridget Coomber (49:05) and Simon Courtney (38:46) at the Hopton 10k.

Simon Barrett (34:11) and Ellie Monks (38:29) crossed the line first at the Bolt Round the Holt 10k. David Naylor (34:48) and Aleksandra Zieminska (43:52) did the same at the The Regent’s Park Winter 10k, organised by Mornington Chasers

RunThrough’s midweek races included Wednesday’s Chase the Sun Battersea Park 10k, which saw Oliver Li (33:17) and Sophie Cowper (37:10) take victories. A day later it was the turn of Kira Cheshire (43:25) and Nathan Porter (35:39) mat the Run Media City 10k. The associated 5k went to Andrew Thompson (16:36) and Hannah Jackson (20:06).

We’re not finished yet! Mark Sampson (34:26) and Samantha Cullen (40:07) crossed the line first at the West Pinchbeck 10k. Suzy Street-Hall (46:59) and Stephen Schubeler (37:06) did the same at the Bournville Leafy 10k. Finally, wins the challenging Bayside 10k went to Rob Bevan (45:23) and Debbie Roberts (59:45).

Back to 13.1 Miles

We have been to Wales and Scotland (and Latvia!), now it’s the turn of England. Amongst the plenty of athletes racing a half marathon this weekend were Mo Hussein and Rebecca Randell. The pair were victorious at the Run Leicester Half Marathon, clocking , 66:58 and 85:08 respectively.

Matthew Dennis (74:26) and Helen Gaunt (82:14) crossed the line first at the Tonbridge Half Marathon, now organised by RunThrough. Imogen Nicole Bungay (87:16) and Nathan Postill (71:53) won the Great Cumbrian Run. Similar honours went to Jackie Stretton (88:57) and Kurtis Swan (72:16) at the midweek Maldon Half Marathon.

The Rugby Half Marathon saw Daniel Clarke (73:07) and Alice Belcher (85:39) finish first. Samuel Crozier (74:16) and Isabella Shaw (86:49) did the same at the Congleton Half Marathon. Over four minutes separated Andrew Greenleaf from the rest of the field as he won the Solent Half Marathon in 70:23. Kerry Riches (90:38) was the fastest female.

There were also victories at the Chichester Half Marathon for James Baker (77:24) and Sharon Walker (92:41). Rianne Payne (90:50) and Sam Knight (81:39) won the Richmond Park Run Half Marathon. Finally, Paul Rogers (84:02) and Lucy Bills (1:47:33) took the honours at the Bolt Round the Holt Half Marathon.

It isn’t a half, but a mention for the Sittingbourne 10 which was won by Fintan Kavanagh (53:23) and Jill Phillips (69:14).

Slightly Shorter

Not Frank Shorter, but a handful of races over 5k to conclude the road racing action for the weekend.

James Reed (15:58) and Jo Andrews (18:06) ran quickest at the Norfolk Gazelles Big Stampede 5k. The event incorporated both individual and team relay entries. Jared Dobson (19:14) and Briony Walsh (20:46) set the fastest times at the Port Lympne 5k Rhino Run.

Finally, the latest edition of the regular midweek Leeds 5k was won by Sam Clegg (16:31) and Ellena Rollason (19:42).