Marathon debutant Dewi Griffiths leads the British athletes competing at the Frankfurt Marathon on Sunday (October 29).
Elsewhere this weekend a number of clubs and university teams will contest the 51st edition of the Manchester Cross Country Relays, plus the Accrington 10k returns for its 31st year.
Frankfurt Marathon – Frankfurt, Sunday, October 29
Around 14,500 runners will take to the streets of Frankfurt on Sunday and amongst the elite fields, are a number of British athletes keen to impress in the German city.
Dewi Griffiths of Swansea Harriers leads the British field and will look to carry his blistering form into his marathon debut. Griffiths recently clocked 61.27 at the Cardiff Half Marathon and also recently impressed with his Swansea teammates winning both road and cross country relays titles.
“It’s a real mix of emotions, from excitement to the fear of the unknown at the 20-mile mark that I’ve heard so much about,” Griffiths told Fast Running.
“But, I’ll be on the start line on Sunday in the best shape of my life and we will find out whether I’m a 10k guy or a marathon runner – who knows what will happen. Your guess is as good as mine right now,” he added.
Dewi’s main focus after Frankfurt will likely be the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where he has the 10,000m qualifying standard along with the 5,000m B standard, hoping to be selected for both.
Other strong Brits making the trip to Germany are Stuart Robinson of Salford Harriers and Tom Evans of Lewes.
Rebecca Hilland of Team Bath is also entered and will be looking to better her 2:39:45 from London Marathon last year. The Norway based athlete ran a 10k personal best of 33:35 last Sunday at the Hytteplanmilla 10k. This followed a win at the Manchester Half-marathon the week before in 1:15.39 so she will have gained confidence heading towards Sunday’s target.
Another notable entrant is Fionnuala Ross. The Scottish 10k and half-marathon champion has all the pedigree to dip under the 2:40:00 mark, and told Fast Running last month: “First I want to PB, and that’s my basic aim, but by how much, I don’t know. It’s a fast course and I just want to take as much time as I can off my London time.”
Getu Feleke of Ethiopia starts as the race favourite in the men’s race, boasting a personal best of 2:04:50. On paper, he is 59 seconds faster than his closest rival and last year’s race winner Mark Korir of Kenya. Leading the women’s starting list is Feyse Tadese who has a world class time of 2:20:27, her closest rival is Yebrgual Melese of Ethiopia with a best of 2:22:51. However, like in Berlin, we saw the unknown Guye Adola finish a close second place to Eliud Kipchoge showing how anything can happen once the racing gets underway in Frankfurt.
Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya could well upset the winning order, she proved her class with an emphatic 5000m title at the Rio Olympics and the Kenyan athlete has now decided that her future lies in road racing. She ran a debut of 2:23:50 for her first marathon but will go into Sunday’s race with 5 women faster than her on the starting line.
Manchester Cross Country Relays – Manchester, Saturday, October 28
The 51st Manchester Cross Country Relays take place on Saturday. The race is a very popular event and attracts a number of club and university teams looking to kickstart their cross country seasons.
The first UMACCC relays took place on the 28th October 1967 at Wythenshawe Park, Sale. It was won by Manchester University with the “Dirty Dossers” coming second. The fastest leg that day (and the first official course record) belonged to Frank Briscoe of Dirty Dossers.
The Dossers won the next two editions of the race but then succumbed to the mighty Birmingham University team of 1970 whose clocking of 58:41 remains unbeaten by any university team. The 1974 race saw Julian Goater set a new men’s course record of 9:11 which still stands today, although the course has changed a fair bit in recent years (Dave Lewis, Hugh Jones, Ron Hill and John Wilde) have all been close to Goaters time since.
In 1976 Ron Hill completed all six laps! His one-man effort clocked a time of 63:36 and a finishing position of fifth overall.
Women compete in teams of three, men and mixed teams comprise of six. The course is the same for men and women both covering 3,010km around the Manchester University playing fields.
Birmingham University men’s and women’s teams have been unbeaten in recent years and will look to defend their titles again on Saturday. Durham and Leeds University teams will be battling to stop Birmingham from taking the win yet again.
On the current course, Jonathon Davies of Birmingham University has the fastest leg with 8:20, The fastest women’s leg is held by Lauren Howarth also of Birmingham University with 9:32.
Accrington 10k – Accrington Lancashire, Sunday, October 29
The Accrington 10k takes place on Sunday and for the first time in the race’s 31 year history, the course will be changed. Won last year by Ben Fish, his time of 32:43 was a great clocking on the undulating course. The Blackburn Harrier, who lives and works locally, will hope to take the victory again on Sunday.
Fish is well accustomed to the hills of Lancashire and is often known to run commute between nearby Darwin and Clitheroe, preferring this method of transport to the local train service! After a recent 68.38 In Cardiff Half-marathon, he will be hard to beat.