James Rhodes brings you all the action including some super performances in the Euro XC

Terrific in Turin

It was a European Cross Country Championships to remember for the British squad that travelled to Turin in Italy, with ten medals overall including two individual golds, alongside team golds for the U23 women, U23 men and U20 men.

I would ordinarily start with the winning performances; however, I feel it would be unjust of me to not start with Emile Cairess. The Leeds City athlete, who has recently taken on Renato Canova as his coach, had the race of his career to take a fantastic silver medal behind firm pre-race favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the senior men’s race.

Having started conservatively, Cairess gradually moved through the field in the middle laps before leading at the halfway point. The second half saw him joined by Ingebrigtsen and Belgian Isaac Kimeli, with the Norwegian 1500m Olympic Champion making a move on the last lap that saw him retain his title from Dublin last year. A strong sprint saw Emile overtake Kimeli in the final stretches to finish second, the best performance by a senior male since Mo Farah took silver in 2009.

The British team finished sixth overall, with a fine twelfth and Hugo Milner 32nd. Ellis Cross, Ben Connor and Jack Rowe crossed the line 37th, 42nd and 44th respectively.

Junior Golden Lock Out

The earlier junior races had set the tone with wins for Charles Hicks (U23) and Will Barnicoat (U20). NCAA XC Champion Hicks led Southampton-based Zakariya Mahamed to a superb one-two in the U23 race, securing the team title in the process. Whilst Hicks went in a favourite as defending Champion, it is fair to say that is one of Mahamed’s best performances on any surface. The squad was completed by Matt Stonier (8th), Rory Leonard (11th), Joe Wigfield (13th) and Tomer Tarragano (37th).

After Irishman Nick Griggs had built a sizeable lead but faltered in the closing metres, Will Barnicoat sprinted to cross the line first in the U20 men’s race, the first of the day. Another race with a British team gold, thanks to fine efforts from Sam Mills and Luke Birdseye in fourth and fifth. Edward Bird, Johnny Livingstone and Jacob Deacon finished ninth, 22nd and 28th respectively.

More Medals

Another team gold came in the U23 women’s race, thanks largely to podium finishes for Megan Keith (second) and Alexandra Millard (third), the latter in her debut in a British vest (does one say shirt when it is freezing temperatures?). Having stepped up in age group after winning the U20 race in 2021, Scotswoman Keith made an impressive debut in her new age category, running alongside defending champion and home athlete Nadia Battocletti for much of the race. However, the Italian was able to make a move that stuck in the final lap that was not relinquished before the finish line, giving Megan a fine silver medal.

Equally impressive was Alex Millard’s performance, moving well through the field before moving away in the final lap to secure the bronze medal. Quite a debut! Grace Carson (5th), Eloise Walker (11th), Alice Goodall (13th) and Yasmin Marghini (18th) completed the team, with the latter two making their British debuts.

(Senior) Women Run Well

The senior women secured team silver behind a very strong German side that included Konstanze Klosterhalfen, led to the finish line by team captain Jess Warner-Judd. Jess was in the leading group in the first laps, although the tough course took its toll as the leaders moved away, led by Klosterhalfen and reigning champion Karoline Grovdal of Norway, with those two taking turns to lead until the Norwegian moved away in the closing corners, retaining her title. Warner-Judd finished eighth, with Abbie Donnelly finishing a fine ninth. Poppy Tank (13th), Jess Gibbon (14th), Cari Hughes (22nd), Amy-Eloise Markovc (28th) completed the six-person team.

Finally, there was a fine fourth place finish for sixteen year old Innes Fitzgerald in the women’s U20 race, having led in the early stages of the race. Impressive when making a GB debut and racing athletes with up to three years more experience. The team finished fourth with Rebecca Flaherty (18th), Megan Harris (23rd), Alice Wright (31st) and Alice Bates (60th).

Telford Magic

It may have been sub-zero temperatures (with resultant travel problems meaning a number of athletes did not make it to the start line), but the performances at the Telford 10k (and England 10km Champs) were red hot, with some incredibly fast winning performances and great depth behind. For clarity, times referenced below are chip times.

The highlight of the morning’s races was a one second lifetime best for Samantha Harrison (31:10), cementing her position as the fifth fastest British athlete over the distance in her first race since October’s Valencia Half Marathon. Indeed, only Eilish McColgan, Paula Radcliffe, Liz McColgan and Jess Warner-Judd have gone quicker.

Just a fortnight after her 15:49 Parkrun in Cardiff, Clara Evans equalled her 32:35 PB to finish second, matching her outing at the Vitality 10k in London earlier this year. Behind, Gemma Steel (32:57) ran her fastest time since 2016, with Lily Partridge (33:04) just one second shy of her lifetime best in her fastest over the distance also since 2016. Georgie Grgec took over a minute off her prior PB, finishing fifth although fourth fastest (33:00) on chip time.

Overall, ten women ran inside 33:30 and 15 within 34:00 minutes; fantastic depth given the conditions.

The men’s race was equally as fast and a thrilling finish, with the top five separated by just ten seconds and a total of 32 athletes running under 30 minutes – something only 77 athletes had done prior to today in 2022.

After two wins out of two in the Met League XC, Alexander Lepretre had one of the best performances of his career to take the win in 28:53 in his first 10k of the year, improving his 29:21 PB by almost half a minute. Behind, Jacob Allen (28:56) and Conor Bradley (28:59) also took significant chunks off their PB, the former in his first 10k in five years and the latter improving his 2013 mark by almost one minute in, according to Power of 10, only his third race of 2022.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Dean Martin and Tom Jones may have sung about the cold, but it didn’t stop plenty of athletes taking to the roads this weekend.

A fine run by Graham Rush (67:43) at the Milton Keynes Winter Half Marathon saw the V40 athlete finish over five minutes ahead of the rest of the field, providing a PB in the process. Behind the Leeds runner there were podium finishes for Ryan Prout (73:34) and Ryan Hogan (73:54). It was a clear victory also for Blackheath & Bromley’s Andrea Clement (79:36), crossing the line almost one minute ahead of Carla Molinaro (80:28) and Emma Stevens (81:33).

With ten athletes going under 33 minutes despite the weekend’s weather conditions, Battersea Park once again demonstrated it to be one of the fastest parks in London as it played host to RunThrough’s Santa Run 10k. They were led by Jonathan Collier (30:23) ahead of Nick Bester (31:01) and Sam Stevens (31:29), whilst the women’s race went to Cynthia Cano (36:58), improving her PB by over two minutes in her first race at the distance since 2020, finishing ahead of Marta Bagnati (37:17) and Carolina Pena (37:56). Thomas Rowley (17:08) and Karen Xiang (17:46) won the associated 5k.

With both finishing over one minute ahead of the rest of the respective fields, there were c comprehensive victories for Megan Adams (43:23) and Andrew McCaskill (34:03) at the QE Olympic Park Santa Run 10k in Stratford. The results of the associated 5k seem a little off, unless an athlete with no trace on Power of 10 or RunBritain really did become the sixth fastest British woman of all-time.

A number of other RunThrough events have taken place this weekend, with wins for James Bennett (1:20:59) and Chloe Hawkins (1:40:00) at the Carsington Water Half Marathon in Ashbourne in Derbyshire, Ella Taylor (43:06) and Jack Bromley (37:16) at the Tatton 10k, Harvey Martin (35:39) and Annie Kibble (45:06) at the Carsington Water 10k, and Becky Tovey (39:12) and Marlon Trump (34:27) Southampton 10k that finishes pitchside at St Mary’s Stadium.

Christmas Spirit

As Christmas gets ever closer, the number of festive-named races continues to grow. I’ll keep it short and sweet given the number of races to cover; the honours at the Christmas Pudding 10k in Langdale, Cumbria went to Tim Lamont (32:10) and Rosanna Andrews (40:18), the former in his first race over 10k of the year, whilst the streets of Lancaster played host to Sophie Kirkby (42:00) and Leo Loughran (36:30) in winning the Christmas Cracker 10k. Jacob Tasker (40:43) and Nynke Kupier (48:41) were victorious at the Merthyr Mawr Christmas Pudding 10k in Bridgend.

My personal favourite name of the weekend was the South Leeds Bah Humbug 10k; there was no such feelings for Richard Herrington (39:13) and Amy Ramsden-Young (46:55) as they crossed the line first.

Taking inspiration from the Thanksgiving tradition in the USA was the Keyworth Turkey Trot Half Marathon, which saw wins for Matthew Hammerton (1:13:58) and Claire Frankland (1:22:56). Stepping down to 5k, it was the turns of Alan Willetts (18:44) and Mia Westwood (20:19) to be victorious at the Floodlit Festive 5k in Stourport-on-Severn earlier in the week, with the Run4All Neath 5k Santa Run going to Carl Cable (18:08) and Lily Williams (20:38) and the Chatham Maritime Christmas Dash 5k to Claire Hope (21:42) and Lee Rogers (17:19).

Covering off some of the less traditional distances, there were wins for Jo Meek (53:06) and Chris Young (52:52) at the Extremely Jolly 7.5 in Ottery St Mary, whilst the Moors the Merrier race in Hebden Bridge covered 21 miles and went to Julian Hood (07:07:11) and Eleanor Wainwright (03:45:15) and Shane Boxall (26:16) and Katy Woodward (29:47) won the Southend 5 Mile Rudolph Run, both finishing considerably ahead of their nearest competitors.

More to Come

Run Dorney, part of the Dorney Lake Events series, provided racing opportunities over the half marathon, 10k and 5k on Sunday. The longest race went to Paul Martelletti and Nia Davies in times of 71:01 and 91:46 respectively, whilst Rachel Burgon (42:55), Russel Astle-Coates (35:52), Bethany Armitahe (22:10) and Leo Merron (20:12) crossed the line first in the 10k and 5k respectively. Staying to the west of London and moving to the Richmond Park Christmas 10k & 5k, where Chrstopher Game (41:57), Elizabeth Adams (44:17), Rodrogo Mattiuz (21:08) and Amy Valentin (24:28) took wins over the two distances.

There were races of all distances at the Nottingham Holme Run on Sunday, with a half marathon, 10k and 5k to choose from. The longest of the three went to Amy Lower (82:40) and Joseph Farrelly (73:31), with Conor Pacey (31:45) and Gabrielle Curran (41:57) breaking the tape in the 10k. The shortest race went to a speedy Katy Wood (17:14) and Ethan Ackroyd (15:25), with U15 athlete Jacob Nugent (15:54) in second.

Ending Indoors

As the indoor season gets underway, a smattering of competitions are starting to take place across the UK (although, not surprisingly, with a focus on sprints and field events given the relative lack of oval indoor tracks). However, the first Northern Athletics ‘Start Fitness’ Indoor Open Meeting of the year took place in Sheffield on Saturday and played host to a fast 3000m, including a win for Phil Sesemann (8:05.45) in his first indoor race of 2022. Behind him were good runs for Alasdair Kinloch (8:15.72) and Max Wharton (8:19.67 PB), whilst Hannah Nuttall revised her lifetime best to 8:56.96.