It may be three weeks until the start of the big dance in Paris, but that did not stop the French capital from hosting a truly memorable afternoon of racing. James Rhodes brings the highlights of the weekend’s action.

With the Olympics just around the corner, Paris got itself warmed up for hosting the best in the world with the Paris Diamond League. Not at the Stade de France, but the perfectly sized Stade Charlety. The venue hosted an incredible meeting last year, which included three World Records and a British Record for Keely Hodgkinson. It had a lot to live up to in 2024, and it certainly succeeded.

The highlight came in the final race of the afternoon, where Faith Kipyegon improved her own 1500m World Record to 3:49.04. Only one woman has run inside 3:50; Faith has now done it twice. Beyond, Australian Jess Hull moved to fifth on the all-time list (3:50.83). That performance is also an Oceanic Record.

Photo: James Rhodes

In third, Laura Muir broke her British Record with 3:53.79. It improves her prior best of 3:54.50. Paris serves Laura well; she broke the British Record for the first time here in 2016. Georgia Bell had a step-change race over 3.75 laps. She didn’t just run sub-four for the first time, but smashed her PB with 3:56.54. An English Record, breaking Katie Snowden’s time of 3:56.72 from last year’s World Championships. Katie ran 3:58.13 for ninth.

Photo: James Rhodes

In the 3000m steeplechase, Lizzie Bird ran the second fastest time of her career (9:09.07). to finish third, her best ever placing in a Diamond League. It improved her SB by over nine seconds and bodes well with the Olympics getting ever closer.

Photo: James Rhodes

Fast Times Continue

It would be remis to not mention the men’s 800m, where three men ran under 1:42, the first time that has ever happened. Just 0.05 seconds separated Djamel Sedjati (1:46.56 NR), Emmanuel Wanyonyi (1:41.58) and Gabriel Tual (1:41.61 NR). Equally impressive was Yaroslava Mahuchikh breaking the women’s high jump World Record with 2.10m. She was not born when the previous WR was set.

The FBK Games in the Netherlands were taking place at the same time, and provided plenty of British success. Keely Hodgkinson, in her penultimate race before the Olympics, won the 800m in 1:57.36. Erin Wallace finished eleventh in the same race (2:01.27).

Photo: Bjorn Paree

Melissa Courtney-Bryant won the 1500m in 4:03.58, her second fastest time of the season.

Bouncing back from his disappointment at the British Championships last weekend, Guy Learmonth raced over a rarely-run 1000m, clocking 2:19.62 for eighth. Dutchman Niels Laros won with a World U20 Record (2:14.37). Adam Fogg stepped up in distance to 5000m, improving his PB to 13:25.19. Fogg finished third in the British Championships 1500m last weekend, just missing out on an Olympic spot.

Photo: Bjorn Paree

Back to France and the outskirts of Paris. The Fast 5000 is often a popular racing choice for Brits seeking a fast race over 12.5 laps, and this year’s edition was no different.

The quickest times of the evening came from Scott Beattie (13:19.41) and Will Barnicoat (13:19.66). Both set PBs; Scott by five second and Will by nine. Ellis Cross (13:29.63) took a significant amount of time off his previous best of 13:43.95.

In the women’s race, Alex Millard set another PB for the distance, improving to 15:18.15. Jenny Nesbitt (15:24.39) and Hannah Irwin (15:53.29) also raced. The respective elite races were won by Egide Ntakarutimana (13:00.74) and Francine Niyomukunzi (14:42.77), both from Burundi.

Domestic Racing

The University of Birmingham hosted the fourth British Milers Club Grand Prix of the season on Saturday. Harry Wakefield (7:56.18) was one of three men to dip inside eight minutes in the men’s 3000m, with all three setting PBs in the process. The women’s race over seven and a half laps was won by Australian Holly Campbell (8:53.63). Behind, Innes FitzGerald continued her fine season with an 8:57.32 PB. That time is the sixth fastest by a British U20 in history.

Joseph Tuffin (3:41.48) and American Christina Aragon (4:06.96) set the fastest times over 1500m, with Kate Axford (4:12.78), Elise Thorner (4:13.63) and Tia Wilson (4:13.66) all setting lifetime bests. Ava Lloyd (2:03.56 PB) and Justin Davies (1:46.05 PB) won the fastest of the 800m races.

A day later, Shaikira King competed at a BMC Regional Race in Gillingham. She ran 2:01.61 in a mixed-gender race, to improve the best time by a fifteen year old. The previous best was 2:03.34). Franklin Shepherd (1:53.63) set the fastest men’s time.

On the Roads

Whilst the track season may be in full swing, the roads have provided plenty of racing opportunities too. There were victories for Conor Sarsfield (33:14) and Emma Clayton (37:26) at the Cheshire 10k, whilst Ellie Monks (36:25) and James Copeland (31:59) were first to finish at the Lordshill 10k.

Andy Lawrence (32:24) and Stephanie Lane (38:50) won the Evesham Town 10k. Meanwhile, Dave Smithers (35:33) and Margaret Beever (40:38) set the fastest times at the Halifax Harriers 10k, and Kira Chesire (41:31) and Greg Siewiadums (35:32) the same at the Pilling 10k.

Wins at the St Magnus 10k went to Craig Moar (35:48) and Jocelyn Forster (40:33), whilst the Shrewsbury 10k saw Ruby Carter (36:07) and Ben Mcintosh (32:17) finish first. Finally, the Stanley Park 10k provided victories to Matthew Skaife (33:09) and Dee Allen (38:06).

Despite its name, the Dartford Midnight Marathon starts at 17:00, meaning the fastest athletes are long finished before the clocks turn midnight. This year’s edition saw Joseph Ball (2:59:57) and Jo Singer (3:25:51) take the plaudits.