May is flying by! It has been another busy weekend of racing on the track and roads, with Olympic and European Championships qualifiers and a British Record amongst the highlights. James Rhodes brings you the best of the action. 

Excellent in Eugene

The Eugene Diamond League is always a highlight of the track season, with strong fields assembled (thanks, Nike contracts!) and often near-perfect racing conditions. Saturday’s edition was no different, and Josh Kerr played a starring role. In a much-anticipated Bowerman Mile, he faced Jakob Ingebrigtsen for the first time since the World Championships. Plenty had been said – by both and others – in the run up, and it deserved its billing as the afternoon’s last action.

Photo: James Rhodes

It was two-in-a-row for Josh, who took the win in 3:45.34 – a British Record, bettering Steve Cram’s longstanding mark set in July 1985. The time itself was impressive, but more so was the manner of his victory. He made a bold a move with 600m to go and held off Ingebrigtsen, Yared Nuguse and an incredibly strong field. Behind, Neil Gourley (3:47.74) and Jake Wightman (3:47.83) both set PBs and ran Olympic qualifying times, something Jake did not yet have.

It was not the only statement of the evening; Keely Hodgkinson delivered a tactical masterclass to win the women’s 800m in 1:55.77. Notably, it was a commanding win over World Champion Mary Moraa, who’s tactics have been a barrier for Keely (and others) to overcome. It is the third fastest time of Keely’s career, just 0.01s shy of her season opener in Paris last year. Behind, Jemma Reekie ran an encouraging 1:57.45.

The women’s 1500m saw Laura Muir (3:56.35) set her fastest ever season opener. Behind, Katie Snowden (4:00.24) and Georgia Bell (4:00.41) raced well – Georgia setting a PB and running the Olympic standard.

Noteworthy also was Beatrice Chebet becoming the first woman to run inside 29 minutes (28:54.14 WR) in the 10,000m.

Brilliant at the BMC

The first British Milers Club Grand Prix of the season took place in Sport City in Manchester on Saturday. Undoubtedly the highlight was the women’s 800m, where six women with PBs inside two minutes took to the track. They included Phoebe Gill, racing for the first time since that incredible performance in Belfast. Phoebe delivered another excellent performance, running 1:58.08 off a sub-54 (!) first lap. She was ahead of the wavelights, set to 1:56, until midway down the back straight. In second, Ciara Mageean broke her own Irish Record (1:58.51) whilst Erin Wallace (1:59.20) ran a PB and Olympic Q in third. Issy Boffey (2:01.14) and Khai Mhlanga (2:02.10 SB) finished fifth and sixth respectively.

Photo: James Rhodes

Reece Sharman Newall (1:46.77) won the men’s 800m. Victories in the ‘a’ 1500m races went to Bethan Morley (4:11.84 PB) and Max Wharton (3:43.73) respectively. American Hillary Bor (13:29.79) and Olimpia Breza of Poland (15:56.59) won the fastest 5000m races. The men’s race saw the top nine finish inside 14 minutes with PBs for Matt Ramsden, Alfie Manthorpe, Alasdair Kinloch and Blake Moore. Holly Dixon and Sophie Tarver both ran inside 16-minutes for the first time in the women’s race (15:58.61 and 15:59.46 respectively).

European Round Up

Hannah Nuttall continued her excellent season at the Gouden Spike in Leiden (Netherlands) on Saturday. She ran a 14:52.65 PB to move to ninth on the British all-time list. However, that time is agonisingly less than a second shy of the Olympic qualifying standard (14:52.00). In the same race, Kate Axford improved her PB to 15:20.87.

Photo: Bjorn Paree

Over 200 British athletes travelled to Belgium to compete at the IFAM Meeting in Brussels. This included a strong distance and middle distance contingent, led by James West who improved his 5000m PB to 13:09.07. That is inside the European Championships qualifying standard. In the same race Charles Wheeler clocked 13:23.35, his fastest time outdoors, and Will Barnicoat a 13:29.23 PB. The men’s 800m saw Tom Randolph (1:45.46), Ethan Hussey (1:45.53 SB) and Tiarnan Crorken (1:45.58 PB) compete, whilst Grace Vans Agnew (2:02.23) and Indienne King (2:06.06) went in the women’s race over two laps.

Joe Wigfield (3:36.57) led the British entrants in the 1500m. There were encouraging performances in the steeplechase also. Poppy Tank (9:53.05 PB) became the 26th British woman to run inside 10 minutes, and Lauren Hall (10:03.94 PB) also had an encouraging run. Mark Pearce won the men’s steeplechase in 8:20.83, a four second PB, with Will Battershill and Phil Norman both running 8:25.

Elliot Giles raced twice over 800m in France this week, and clocked 1:44.46 in both! First at the Meeting de Marseille on Wednesday and then at the Meeting Stanislas on Saturday. At the former, Guy Learmonth (1:47.02) and Revee Walcott Nolan (4:04.05) also competed. In the latter, Dan Rowden clocked 1:45.48. Guy also raced twice this week, improving to 1:46.02 at the Merck Laufgala in Germany.

Still Going

At the Grifone Meeting in Italy, Callum Dodds continued his excellent start to the season with 1:45.36 in the 800m. Archie Davies finished the 1500m in a SB of 3:38.18. In Poland, Jack Higgins (1:47.45) ran an almost half-second improvement on his PB, set during the indoor season, at the Gorzow Meeting

Alex Millard ran 4:10.93 in her first 1500m of the season at the Jessheim 1500m Elite in Norway, whilst Tia Wilson (15:58.84) set her first 5000m time under 16 minutes at the Trond Mohn Games in Bergen. Back in Germany and to the Meeting de Forbach. Alex Bell became the fifth British woman to run sub-two at the weekend, clocking 1:59.55. Finally, at the Kladno Hází a Kladenské Memoriály (Czech Republic) on Wednesday, Issy Boffey (2:02.51) and Abbie Ives (2:04.10) raced over 800m.

Alex Millard. Photo: James Rhodes

On the Roads

Ahead of the marathon at the Olympic Games, Calli Thackery and Emile Cairess continued their preparations at the Great Manchester Run. Calli finished second in a strong field, crossing the line in 31:02. Notably, she beat reigning marathon World Champion Amane Beriso of Ethiopia. 2022 World Champion Gotytom Gebreslase won in 30:32. Clara Evans (32:10) finished fourth. Emile (27:57) was fifth in a race won by Vincent Ngetich of Kenya (27:25).

Sean Chalmers (65:27) and Jenny Selman (79:51) won the Edinburgh Half Marathon in less than ideal conditions. Jenny is showing impressive range, with it less than two years since she represented Scotland over 800m at the Commonwealth Games. Laura Smith (35:12) and Nick Collins (33:36) won the Folkestone Coastal 10k.