As I type this on a late Sunday afternoon, it is pouring with rain outside – weather conditions that many athletes across the UK have faced this weekend. That has not stopped a flurry of fast races across all distances on the roads. Let’s get straight to it!

Excellent Emile

Having begun this article with a mention of the wet weather at home, I’m going to start the racing action from a much sunnier Spain and the Valencia Half Marathon. A city and course well known for producing fast times (including the current women’s World Record), this year’s edition brought about some equally fast outings.

Whilst the respective wins went to Kenyan Kibiwott Kandie and Germany’s 5000m European Champion Konstanze Klosterhalfen (in her half marathon debut), our eyes were placed on what was happening a few places back.

The streets of Valencia seem to suit Emile Cairess. Returning to the city where he ran 27:44 (27:43 chip) to move to second on the UK all-time list for 10k in January, the Leeds City athlete ran 60:32 to improve his lifetime best by 44 seconds and move from eleventh to fourth on the British all-time list, now sitting behind Mo Farah, Callum Hawkins and Jake Smith. He finished eleventh in the race, and the second European.

Behind, there were good runs from Mahamed Mahamed (62:11), Jack Rowe (63:04), Callum Hawkins (63:33) and Derek Hawkins (65:00).

It was not just the men who produced some fantastic performances in Valencia. Samantha Harrison (69:35) continued her fine form with the second fastest half marathon of her career, whilst Kate Drew (73:36) took 50 seconds off her previous best, from Antrim in August, to not only enter the UK all-time rankings but to sit equal 37th. The top five Brits were rounded out by Georgia Malir (76:10), Annabel Simpson (81:31) and Rachel Hillman (82:48).

Closer to Home

Although taking part with a reduced-size elite field compared to previous years, the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k returned with fast times despite the rainy conditions. In her first race since her post-track season wedding, Jess Warner-Judd debuted her new name with a comfortable win in a time of 32:18. She was followed by a close battle between Atsede Gidey (32:34) just a week on from winning Bath Half and Tonbridge’s Lucy Reid (32:35).

It was an equally close affair amongst the front of the men’s field, with Andrew Milligan (29:22) separated by just two seconds from Timothy Lefroy (29:24). The pair recorded the same gun time (29:24) but Andrew was given the nod on chip time. The top three was completed by Lewis Jagger (29:27). In all, 14 athletes recorded times under 30 minutes.

Tougher Terrain

I’m not sure if there has ever been a study of the toughest marathons in England, but I would imagine the Beachy Head Marathon would be up there with its almost 2000ft of elevation gain over 26.2 miles. The course didn’t provide much trouble for Tom Evans, however, who’s 2:48:31 clocking saw him finish almost 20 minutes ahead of Peter Hogben (3:07:37) and Pere Capdevila (3:15:59). That time is the sixth fastest on the course since 1986.

It was almost as emphatic for Becky Atkinson (3:35:16), finishing almost nine minutes ahead of Sharon Walker (3:44:06) and Lianne Leakey (4:09:13). The associated half marathon was won by Amy Harris (91:50) and Trevor Sexton (87:28), whilst the 10k went to Thomas Grimes (39:26) and Shantel Redfern (45:37).

Road Round Up

Dare I say it has been a quieter weekend than some recent ones? That’s not to say there was nothing else happening.

The Millom Striders Halloween 10k saw Katherine Maltby (34:36) have a fantastic run, finishing over 45 seconds ahead of the rest of the field and taking nine seconds off her fastest time of the year in the process. Finishing second overall, David Fulford (35:24) was the first male across the line.

In her first race since her 2:36:21 outing at the London Marathon, there was a commanding victory for Anya Culling (34:43) at the Run Norwich 10k, with Logan Smith (31:22) the other winner. Over in Ilmington and the Tempo Events Winter Series, it was a good day for Matt Burdus-Cook (36:52) and Maisie-Joy Spriggs (43:12).

Staying down south, it was a home-club double victory for Croydon Harriers at the (very wet) Croydon 10k, with James Hancock (32:39) finishing ahead of Jake Simmonds (33:59) and James Lyne (34:43), whilst Penny Oliver (39:53) was the first female ahead of clubmate Zoha Jetha (42:58) and Jennifer Gutteridge (43:44). On a side note, it was good to see two of Croydon Harriers’ most famous athletes, Sydney Olympics fourth placer Donna Fraser and European Junior Champion Derek Kinlock, handing out medals despite the pouring rain.

Longer Distances

Stepping up in distance but staying in South London, there were good runs from Sarah Astin (76:50) and Tom Austin (68:15) to take wins at the Royal Borough of Kingston Half Marathon. The respective podiums were completed by Steph McCall (79:21), Florence Beard (84:24), Edward Chuck (68:41) and Shane O’Neill (73:13).

Scott Ramsey (71:09) and Laura Shrewbridge (89:15) took wins at the Larking Gowen Ipswich Half Marathon, whilst Lee Stopford (71:24) and Annabel Granger (83:31) did the same at the Stroud Half Marathon.

With a surname that I think describes the course, Alan Hilley (2:59:14) was victorious at the Langdale Marathon as was Helen Knight (3:34:06). The associated Langdale Half Marathon was won by Oscar Subuh-Symons (77:16) and Theresa Oldroyd (1:42:18).
Sunday also saw the Abingdon Marathon take place, but despite my best efforts I have not been able to find results at the time of writing.

Speedy in ‘B’

Places beginning with B seemed to be the place to be to run this weekend. Alexander Lanz (31:24) and Rebecca Johnson (34:28) kicked things off with wins at the Battersea Park 10k, with the shorter distance Battersea Park 5k taken by Helen Gaunt (17:37) and James Wootton (15:32).

Moving slightly to the north and the Bedford Autodrome Running Grand Prix, where races were held at all distances from 5k to the marathon. Jason French (2:32:52) and Jo Hudson (3:14:50) crossed the finish line first over 26.2 miles, with Elle Roche (82:41) and Mark Hill (72:27) doing the same in the half marathon. It was the turn of Sullivan Smith (33:41) and Robyn Alice Seabright (40:31) over 10k, with the shortest distance race being won by Johanna O’Regan (17:28) and Jasper Adamson (15:10).

Crossing the border into Wales and the Bangor City Half Marathon, where Armon Williams (81:50) and Helen Pickett (98:48) were victorious. Rachel Shipley (40:29) had the winning feeling also at the Bangor City 10k. I can tell you the men’s race was won in 37:03, but the results have “Llyr” as the winner. Unlike Bono or Moby, I assume, there is not someone running with just one name.

Ending in Italy

I’ll end this week with a venture to Italy and the Giro delle Cascina, where Fast Running’s own Robbie Britton finished seventh with a 31:58 PB. Not bad for someone in the middle of training for a 24 hour adventure!