Another weekend packed full of competition and, as ever, some excellent performances. James Rhodes brings you the highlights of a busy weekend for cross country, track and on the roads.

Manchester Magic

On 1 February 2004, Olga Kotlyarova set a World Indoor Record for 600m in Moscow. Technically, it’s a World Indoor Best because World Athletics don’t recognise the 600m as a WR-event. Keely Hodgkinson was 32 days old that day. I wonder if she (well, her family, given athletics probably isn’t in the conscious of a baby) thought one day she would hold that record.

That’s what happened at the World Indoor Tour in Manchester. Running on her local track, the Olympic and World silver medalist ran 1:23.81 to take three-hundredths off the 2004 mark. Billed as a British Record attempt, the advertised pace made it clear the intention was likely something bigger. After going through 400m in 54:59, the Leigh Harrier held strong to add her name to the history books.

Keely Hodgkinson with coach Trevor Painter. Photo: James Rhodes

First race of the season, not a bad way to start. A European Indoor title defence – during which she will turn 21 – would be a fitting end to the indoor season.

Plenty More

Elsewhere in Manchester, four Brits ran inside eight minutes for 3000m, led my Matt Stonier (7:51.12) in his indoor debut and first 3000m race. Charles Wheeler (7:54.20) and James Young (7:57.42) were rewarded with outright PBs, whilst Ian Crowe-Wright (7:57.71) and James Heneghan (8:07.45) set indoor bests.

Jenny Nesbitt won the women’s 3000m in 9:03.88 in her first race of 2023. After leading for much of the race, Eloise Walker (9:06.32) was second and Rebecca Johnson fifth (9:11.52 PB). Issy Boffey took the 800m (2:02.70), with an indoor PB for Abbie Ives (2:04.56) in fourth. Significantly, the race was Lynsey Sharp’s first 800m since the World Championships in 2019 (2:04.64).

Issy Boffey. Photo: James Rhodes

A close finish saw Ellie Baker (4:10.12) finish ahead of Erin Wallace (4:10.43) over 1500m, the latter’s first track race since last March, with Jenny Selman (4:12.10 iPB) third. Sam Reardon (1:48.46) was the fastest Brit in the two men’s 800m races.

Cross County Championships

Eyes were not entirely on the indoors, with the largest regional XC competitions of the year taking place.

After winning the Greater Manchester County Championships three weeks earlier, Joe Steward took his maiden title at the Start Fitness Northern Championships in Blackburn. Having finished second in 2020, the Salford Harrier finished nine second ahead of Carl Avery of Morpeth (36:17 to 36:26). Cameron Bell of Hallamshire Harriers finished third (36:59).

It was a good day if your name started with Phil- and you were entered in the senior women’s race. Hallamshire Harrier Phillipa Williams took a commanding win (27:11) over the slightly differently spelled Philippa Stone of Middlesbrough (27:52). Scout Adkin (Ambleside) completed the podium five second back (27:57).

Despite not featuring on the either of the senior individual podiums, Leeds City took both team titles.

Close Battles in Beckenham

Moving southwards and to the South of England Championships in Beckenham Place Park. The mud had subsided slightly from the recent Surrey League fixture, but the course provided tough conditions for those competing.

It was a good day for Aldershot, Farnham & District, leaving Beckenham with the senior women individual and team titles. In an exciting race, where the top three were separated by just six seconds, Georgie Brunivels (27:01) ran well to get the better of Andrea Clement from Blackheath & Bromley (27:04) and her ADF clubmate Niamh Brown (27:07).

Georgie Bruinvels XC Aldershot

Georgie Bruinvels at the South of England XC Championships. Photo: Lenny Martin

Having finished second in last year’s junior race, Tonbridge’s James Kingston had one of the biggest wins of his career over the three and a half lap course. Not only that, he finished almost 40 seconds ahead of the rest of the high quality field (45:07). It’s been an excellent January after winning the Kent County Championships and finishing third at the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Perth a fortnight ago.

A sprint finish for the podium saw Alex Lepretre (Highgate) just get the better of Bedford & County’s Ben Alock, 45:46 to 45:47. Highgate took the team title by just two points from Tonbridge.

James Kingston & Alex Petretre (519) at the South of England XC Championships. Photo: Lenny Martin

Lots of Cs

Finally to the Midland Counties Championships held in Newbold Comyn. Gemma Steel continued her running revival with a senior title (24:29), helping to lead Charnwood to the team title in the process. Another C-club, Coventry, took individual silver thanks to Julie Emmerson (24:41), with Amelia Samuels of Wolverhampton & Bilston rounding out the podium (24:54).

After starting the year in Valencia, Jack Gray provided the third club starting with C – Cambridge & Coleridge – on the podium, taking gold in the senior men’s race in 32:09. Samuel Moakes (Notts AC  32:41) was next across the line followed by Kurt Taylor. That was the latter’s second medal as alongside his Bristol & West clubmates he took the team title.

To the Roads

Plenty has been happening on the roads too. The arbitrary made-up title of this weekend’s fastest domestic 10k goes to the Stockport Daffodil 10k. There, Jonny Mellor (31:25) finished over a minute ahead of Lucas Parker (32:47). It was a similar story for Carla Davies (36:03) who took the win in front of Elinor Kirk (37:17).

Fast times were had also at the Run for All Leicester 10k. Grace Carson (32:51) completed the course just six seconds shy of her lifetime best third overall in a race completed quickest by Anthony Woodward (32:06).

There were wins for Matthew Quibell (32:29) and Rebecca Miller (38:08) at the Bolsover 10k in Derbyshire, whilst Sally Armitage (40:46) and Mark Holden (36:25) took the honours at the Meltham 10k in Huddersfield.

Racing Abroad

Alice Wright took part in the historic Osaka Women’s Marathon in Japan, finishing in 2:29:50 and eleventh. It was tough work in the second half for Alice in the third marathon of her career. She set out fast, on 2:25:30 pace at 10k and 2:27:00 pace at half way.

A handful of British athletes headed to Spain for the Seville Half Marathon. They included Naomi Mitchell, who’s 72:05 was just ten seconds outside of her lifetime best and saw her finish sixth. Nicholas Barry and Matthew Fox were the fastest British men, finishing 23rd and 24th respectively. Impressively, that is Nicholas’s third half marathon of 2023!

Back Home

In London, Ash Brooks (36:06) and Leah Walland (40:30) finished first at the picturesque Bushy New Year 10k. Florin Gabriel Popescu (18:41) and Kathryn Ball (23:50) won the associated 5k. Making his first of appearances for the week, Ollie Garrod (15:11) joined Sophie Cowper (18:12) as winners of this month’s Serpentine Last Friday of the Month 5k in the capital.

Over tougher conditions, the Lavenham Old Railway 10k provided wins for Zofia Barnes (53:05) and Matthew Thackwray (40:12), as did the Gransden Muddy Fun Run 10k for Scott Barker (42:43) and Vicky Moignard (46:56). I am not sure the course description sits alongside the word ‘fun’, personally.

Stepping up in distance, Isabelle Lemasson (1:56:12) and Adam Tapley (1:21:24) crossed the finish first at the Gransden Muddy Fun Run Half Marathon. Rachel Cooke (46:50) and Andy Lawrence (40:15) took wins over a rarely run 12k at the Not the Roman IX.

RunThrough Round Up

Another week, another set of RunThrough results, with races at four venues. Wednesday saw the Battersea Park Chase the Moon where the fast course once again provided excellent results. The 10k was won by Nick Bester (30:46), taking 15 seconds off his PB set at the same event last month. Behind him, there were significant improvements also for Harry Allan (30:54, PB by 33 seconds) and Rhys Doherty (32:07) with an over two-minute improvement on his 2022 best.

In her first 10k since 2016, Natasha Lodge improved her lifetime best (38:37) to win the women’s field. Fast times for Isabelle Miller (38:59) and Georgina Revell (39:05 PB) completed the top three. The associated 5k went to Chloe Dooley (17:42) and Ollie Garrod (15:10).

The Lee Valley Velo Park played host to races over three distances on Sunday. Mathieu Lavedrine (35:09) and Maria Ferrerio (43:48) were quickest over 10k, with Monica Wan-Mensa (28:27) and Craig Puncher (17:28) taking the honours over 5k.

Alex Walker (75:30) was victorious in the half marathon alongside, apparently, Seabs Seabs Face (1:41:46). I remain dubious on their accuracy of that name!

Chepstow Racecourse and Crystal Palace hosted races on Sunday. The former provided wins for Philip Daniels (78:43) and Joanna Lloyd Davies (91:49) in the half, Samantha Antell (38:31) and John Moran (36:13) over 10k, and Joel Francis Powell (19:59) and Melissa Mann (22:46) in the 5k.

Crystal Palace rewarded Kathryn Griffiths (42:11), Alex Hamblin (35:19), Tej Thaker (18:03) and Amy Valentin (24:17) with wins over 10k and 5k respectively. Given the elevation change over the multi-lap route, Julien Gueydon’s 72:37 half marathon clocking is notable. Eleanor Wainwright (92:50) was the fastest female over 13.1 miles.

Metric Measurements

Jordan Skelly (51:22) ran the fastest ten mile race of the weekend. The Lincoln Wellington runner won the Ferriby 10 in Skidby, Humberside ahead of Matthew Nelson (51:53) and Ryan Page (52:50). It was a similar margin for Della Hatfield (59:23) amongst the women racing, finishing 31 seconds ahead of Lindsay Skinner (59:54) and Nicola Curtis (60:58).

Ian Lawton (52:13) crossed the line over four minutes ahead of the rest of the field at the St Anne’s 10 in Lancashire. E. Connell-Fielding (67:22) was the quickest woman racing. Katie Harbon (60:28) and Mohammed Elbayan (53:45) finished first at the ATW Bedford 10.

Finally, Wednesday’s Exmouth 5 Mile went to Jacob Harrison (25:50) and Rosie Mew (28:52).

Elsewhere Indoors

With the indoor season in full swing, plenty has been happening elsewhere indoors.

The highlight of the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe, the first stop of the World Indoor Tour Gold, came through an impressive with for George Mills over 1500m (3:35.88). Comfortably inside the European Indoors standard amongst an impressive field, he moves to sixth on the UK all-time list indoors. Jemma Reekie opened her season with an 800m (2:02.10), 0.1s inside the European Indoor standard. Noteworthy also was Dina Asher Smith’s 7.04 British Record over 60m.

On Wednesday, Angharad Davies (9:22.87 PB) and Almi Nerurkar (9:25.16) competed over 3000m at the Gran Premio Internacional Ciudad de Valencia in Spain. Nerurkar (4:31.85) raced again at Saturday’s Meeting Internacional Catalunya Pista Coberta. At the same meeting, Jamie Webb (1:48.31) and Ben Claridge (1:49.46) opened their seasons over 800m.

Guy Learmonth (1:46.84) finished just outside of his PB and 0.09s shy of the European Indoors standard at the Meeting National Indoor Lyon. Alex George raced over 3000m (8:14.02), having run 8:07.55 at the Astana Meeting in Kazakhstan on Monday. Staying in France, the Meeting indoor Nantes Métropole included an 800m for David Locke (1:49.89).

Ending Stateside

We started with a British Record on the track, and that is also where we will end. Boston University’s track is famed for producing fast times, and it was no different at the John Thomas Terrier Classic.

Sam Atkin had a challenging 2022, with sub-par performances at the World and European Championships. Those were forgotten, however, as he improved the 3000m British Record with a 7:31.97 clocking. That is faster than both Mo Farah’s previous indoor and outdoor records. It also moves him to second on the European all-time list indoors and, naturally, is a European Indoor qualifying time. Quite an achievement! In the same race, Adam Fogg improved his PB (7:44.14), agonisingly shy of the 7:44.00 Euro Indoors standard.

Sam Atkin at last summer’s European Championships. Photo: James Rhodes

Elsewhere Stateside, Daniel Joyce (4:07.55) and Molly Jones (4:48.65) set mile PBs at the Bob Pollock Invitational in South Carolina. British Record holder for the 3000m steeplechase Lizzie Bird raced over 1500m (4:17.69) at the Lilac Grand Prix in Washington. Fellow steeplechaser and Croydon Harrier Stevie Lawrence (9:42.29) raced 3000m. Also in Washington, Nathan Dunn improved his 3000m best at the UW Invitational (8:08.04).