Judd and Harrison star on the roads – weekend roundup
Houston, we have (no) problem
Yes, of course I’ll try to use space-related pun when I talk about the results of the Houston Half Marathon, where Jess Warner-Judd delivered one of the best British half-marathon performances in history with a time of 67:19; a time surpassed only by Paula Radcliffe, Eilish McColgan and Liz McColgan. That time is an improvement of 33 seconds on only her second attempt at the distance, her first being the same course last year, and she finished third behind Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebremaryam (66:28) and Emily Sisson, who set her own American record (67:52).
I think it’s fair to say that Jess did it the hard way too, after a stunning 15:31 over 5K (pace under 65:30) and a 31:17 split over 10K. I’m curious to see what she can do in a more consistent race plus of course more experience over the distance. I firmly believe that Jess is one of our underrated athletes; She has run every distance between 800m and 10,000m in major championships for the past decade and if you’re a fan of more niche stats, today she became the first British woman to run the Sub-2 800m and a Sub is 67:30 half marathon.
It was an overall good day in the Warner-Judd household as Rob Warner finished his first half marathon in 69:36. US-based Scotsman Max McNeill was the fastest male Briton with 67:24 and finished 49th overall.
As an aside, it was nice to see Tirunesh Dibaba, one of the greatest racers of all time, returning in her first race in four years after giving birth to two children. She finished sixteenth with 71:35.
Rapid performances in Valencia overshadowed
A number of British athletes headed to the Spanish coast in search of a quick time in a town known for its PBs. While it’s never nice to start with a negative, it feels necessary to say the scenes at the beginning of the Valencia 10k were scary, messy and certainly avoidable. In what appeared to be a very small starting area for such a large race, many athletes fell and were trampled upon, one dislocating a shoulder and several missing the finish line as a result. Scores of athletes have taken to social media to comment on how unsafe they felt, and some of the performances of those who finished were undoubtedly impacted. Hopefully steps will be taken to avoid such scenes in the future.
I had heard that some Brits had a fall at the start, I wasn’t expecting that. https://t.co/ZuG8n8ocRt
— James Rhodes (@James_Athletics) January 15, 2023
That being said, there are many positive accomplishments to talk about. They are led by Samantha Harrison, who carried her excellent form from 2022 into the new year with a time of 30:51, a significant improvement on her previous best set at Telford. She is only the fourth Brit to run under 31 minutes on the road. Excellent!
Behind her there was a fine debut over the distance for Amelia Quirk (31:49), which took her sixteenth in the UK all-time list, while Steph Twell ran a career third fastest 10K (32:25). Lucy Reid (32:54), Elle Twentyman (33:33), Naomi Mitchell (33:38) and Helen Hall (33:42) all ran well and might have run faster but for the chaotic start some did left the named athletes with cuts and other injuries.
There were also plenty of encouraging performances from the men. Andrew Butchart (28:06) was just a second away from his 2021 lifetime best, while Zak Mahamed (28:24) improved his best by over three minutes – despite not having ridden a 10k since October 2018.
Ten other men ran within 29 minutes; Jonathan Davies (28:39 PB), Joe Wigfield (29:40 PB), Jacob Allen (28:45 PB), Mahamed Mahamed (28:46), Ellis Cross (28:48), Calum Johnson (28:49 PB ). ), Alex Lepretre (28:51 PB), Phil Sesemann (28:54) and Ian Crowe-Wright (28:59 PB).
In 2022, 16 men ran within 29 minutes; Twelve made it in one race today. Valencia’s reputation for speed remains intact.
Domestic races too
While it appeared as if half of Britain’s distance athletes had been in Spain (or some exotic location for warm-weather training) this weekend, that hasn’t stopped some notable performances at home – despite those that remain less than ideal weather conditions.
Highlights include the Brass Monkey Half Marathon at York, where Joe Sagar (66-21) took the win just six seconds ahead of Kieran Walker (66-27) and Lewis Gamble-Thompson (67-08) was third. It was less close in the women’s, with Georgia Malir (75-10) shaving exactly a minute off her previous best to break away from Alyson Dixon (76-48) and Charlotte Mason (77-00), the latter turning around 70 seconds improved .
the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon saw Anna Bracegirdle (74:49) finish almost five minutes ahead of Kirsty Longley (79:26) and Joanna Marsden (79:48) while Omar Ahmed (67:51) took the men’s race ahead of a tied Ed Shepherd (69: 19) and Gavin Tomlinson (69:19). Think Nicholas Barry (69-20) in fourth place, just a second away from a top three finish.
The weekend’s run-through results include wins for Joanna Mann (36:33) and Lee D’Arcy (37:07). Greenwich Park 10kwith Saifuddin Jacobie (19:38) and Nancy Edwards (22:29) claiming the associated 5K, while earlier in the week there were victories for Ollie Garrod (32:09), Caroline Williams (40:35), Abnash Kaur (24th) :09) and Sam Dodd (18:02) at the Chase the Moon Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park over 10k or 5k.
race at Dorney Lake and after a PB at parkrun to open the year, Abdirahman Hamud (72:50) claimed a comfortable win in the half marathon – more than five minutes ahead of the rest of the field – in his first race over the distance. Rozzie Batchelar (86-50) was the fastest woman by a similar margin. The fastest 10K times went to Ian Connock (35:59) and Hannah Pullen (37:26), while Sarah Stallwood (20:23) and Spencer Bateman (16:51) claimed the 5K honors.
Various cross-country leagues across the UK returned this weekend, as did the British Athletics Cross Challenge. Held in Perth, Scotland, there were victories for Megan Keith and Jamie Crowe in their respective senior races, the former in her first race in the mud since winning U23 silver at the European Cross Country Championships. She finished 14 seconds ahead of Fionnuala Ross and Scout Adkin. In the seniors’ race, Crowe finished ahead of Swansea’s Kristian Jones, a respectable win after missing much of last year through injury. Tonbridge’s James Kingston was third.
There were victories for Herts Phoenix in both senior races of game four in the Start the Fitness Met League held in Welwyn thanks to Elizabeth Janes and Oscar Bell in their respective races. Georgie Grgec (Herne Hill Harriers) and Jack Millar (Thames Hare & Hounds) moved south of the capital and won in Division 1 of the Surrey Leaguewhich took place in a muddy Beckenham Place park while the Division 2 races, held at Chobham Common, went to Fulham’s Charlie Sandison and Croydon Harriers’ Penny Oliver.
Move to Berry Hill Park in Mansfield and the North Midlands League, where just four seconds separated Ben Connor from Samuel Moakes of Derby and Notts AC in the 10km distance. It was even closer in the women’s 6km senior race where Race Hubs’ Nikki Bartlett clinched victory by just a second over Worksop Harriers’ Frederich Richards. Grace Carson, staying in this general part of the country, was a comfortable winner of the Midland Women’s League The Division 1 game at Warley Woods in Smethwick while the Division 2 race at Stoke on Trent went to Cheltenham & County Harriers’ Tallulah Robin Redmond.
Midland Women’s League games were held in conjunction with the Birmingham & District Invitation Leaguewhere Loughborough Students’ Baptiste Fourmont and Western Tempo’s Dom James recorded victories in Divisions 1 and 2 respectively.
Bedford & County AC took four of the top five places in the seniors’ race league of children at Campbell Park, Milton Keynes, led by Ben Alcock, who finished almost 45 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. It was a Bedford victory in the women’s senior race, thanks in part to Rebecca Murray, who crossed the finish line 58 seconds clear.
The winners were Kate Estlea (AFD) and Thomas Syckelmoore (Basingstoke & Mid Hants). Hampshire League at Prospect Park, Reading, while Nigel Martin (Sale Harriers) won by twelve seconds Manchester Area League at Tatton Park, with Naomi Kingston (Altrincham & District) winning the senior ladies’ race by over a minute.
Ultimately, there were victories for Kirsty Maher (Lancaster & Morecambe) and Matthew Briggs (Lancaster University). Medium Lancs League at Lawson’s Ground in Blackpool, with Jordan Howes (Medway & Maidstone) and Renata McDonnell (Deal Triathlon Club) taking the top spots in Game 5 of the Kent Fitness Leagueheld at Betteshanger Park in Deal.
On the trail
Others turned from the streets and XC leagues to the trails in search of racing opportunities. These included Russell McGavock (1:34:01) and Jackie Stretton (1:50:17) who competed at the 32nd ben fleet 15while the Montane Delamere Trail Half Marathon went to Luisa Candioli (89:47) and Chris Holdsworth (74:25).
In the 10K races, Alex Rae (37:50) and Lucy Rawlinson (45:34) were victorious Montane Delamere Trail 10kmwith Anna Gardiner (38:24) and Ashley Crutchley (35:17) right at the Complete Forest Run Tollymore 10k; Victories in the accompanying 5K went to Krzysztof Sokol (17:53) and Katie Graham (19:48).
In Italy, Fast Running’s Robbie Britton won the excellently named Soft hard trail Race in Bione. It was over 1,850m of climbing over almost 26.5km, not for the faint of heart, but Robbie was rewarded with a new hat and some coffee as prizes – not a bad deal I’d say.