If you wanna be a record breaker…. this was the week for it as records tumble in races from Armagh to Monaco, Dublin to Glasgow. 

Where to begin? What a week! On the roads and the track indoor and outdoor our athletes have really been putting their winter training to the test and reaping the rewards.

Mageean stars at the AIT International Grand Prix

Getting us off to a flying start was Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn AC/ Team New Balance) who broke her own Northern Irish Senior record, ran a PB and a Stadium Record at the AIT International Grand Prix in the Women’s 3000m on Wednesday night.

After battling with GB’s Rosie Clarke from the start the Northern Irish Olympic hopeful won out and Clarke had to settle for second in 8:49.49. Third place also went to team GB – Beth Kidger finished in 9:18.53 and Eloise Walker set a GB U20 record to finish fourth in 9:21.30. Read more here.

The Men’s Mile was similarly competitive. Ethiopia’s Samuel Tefera ran a PB of 3:55.86 for the win, followed by Ireland’s Brian Fay who bettered his previous indoor record to take silver in 4:00.77 ahead of Brazil’s Thiago Andre (4:01.55). Also heading home with a PB was Adam Craig who placed sixth in 4:03.34

Møller and Clarke win in Armagh

It was a night to remember at the Armagh International Road Races. Not just for the scrappy beginning of the men’s race that saw several tripped, stumbling or even falling in the crush to get a fast start.

Near perfect conditions led to 50 women running under 10 minutes in the Intersport Women’s 3k. 135 men ducked under 15 minutes (113 last year) in the 5k, with 21 going sub 14. In that depth of field it is not surprising that it took a new course record to secure the win for Anna Emilie Møller in 8:58 with Adam Clarke clocking 13:42 in an exciting finish.

Blazing after Møller in the women’s 3k was Alex Bell, who would normally race over 800m but appears to have plenty to offer over longer distances. According to her twitter she rather enjoyed the chance to stretch out her run and was rewarded with the silver in 9:06. Amy Griffiths was just behind Bell to take third in 9:09 and Kate Avery was fourth in 9:10.

Tight race for men’s podium

For the gents, it was Johnny Davis and Phil Sesemann who were both just two seconds behind Alex Clarke in the 5k to take second and third with the same time of 13:44. As suggested by the crazy start, the race was a battle for every place, and the next two positions were also neck and neck at 13:46 for Phil Norman and Jake Shelley.

In the team competition England was victorious in both the men’s and women’s competition. An astonishing average of 13:50 won it for the guys, led by team captain, Phil Sesseman (3rd, 13:45), Jake Shelley (4th, 13:46) and Graham Rush (12th, 13:55). The ladies scorers were Charlotte Dannatt (7th, 9:21), Laura Brenton (16th, 9:32), Rebecca Johnson (19th, 9:34) and Kirsty Longley (31st/1st W40, 9:44).

Scott, Reekie, Muir and Learmonth impress on the track

In Seattle, Washington the Husky Classic 3000m was part of a weekend of indoor racing and resulted in a 7:46.11, a little indoor PB and second place for Mark Scott of Cambridge & Coleridge who was running for Bowerman Track Club in this setting. James West who was running for Oregon but is a Tonbridge athlete when on home turf ran a sizeable PB to place sixth in 7:47.10 with Jack Rowe 10th in 7:51.00.

It is weekends like this when athletes thank their lucky stars for indoor meets. With races being cancelled left right and centre on Saturday, the Müller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow was a safe haven for runners wanting to burn it up on the track. In the Men’s 800m Adam Kszczot of Poland took the 10 points for top spot in 1:46.34. Scotland’s Guy Learmonth ran a 1:47.16 for third with Josh Kerr and Elliot Giles fourth and fifth but with the same time of 1:47.40 and Alex Botteril seventh in 1:47.77

The Men’s 1500m victory belonged to Bethwell Birgen of Kenya in 3:36.22. First home for GB was Piers Copeland who took fourth place in a new PB of 3:38.81. Following him for GB were Geroge Mills in 3:39.25 for sixth (also a PB) and Archie Davis in seventh 3:44.48. Charlie Da’vall Grice sadly had a fall midway through the and Jamie Webb also did not finish.

Laura Muir proved that although she’s battled injury over the winter she can still command a strong victory in the Women’s 1000m. The Scot said it was a tough race, commenting “I was a little down at 600m and oh that last lap was so sore“, but nevertheless she took home the win in 2:33.47 and will “be back out training in the wind and rain tomorrow” ready for the outdoor season.  Adelle Tracey couldn’t quite reach Muir and had to settle for second in 2:37.95 to make it a GB one-two.

It was Muir’s training partner Jemma Reekie though who grabbed everyone’s attention yet again. After breaking the national 800m, British indoor mile and British indoor 1500m records just weeks ago Reekie just went and churned out a 4:04.07 to grab top spot in the 1500m ahead of Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum (4:04.24). Reekie said ““It was a good race and a good confidence boost. I try to focus on myself out there because I’ll only ever work with the pressure that I put on myself and I don’t feel it off other people.”

Goolab claims British 5km record

On Sunday morning at RunMonaco, the 5k World Record was smashed to smithereens by Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei. He went into the race ‘thinking of sub-13’ and he certainly achieved it with his 12:51. That makes him 27 seconds faster than the previous best.

Britain’s Nick Goolab (Belgrave Harriers) ran an absolutely sensational race to finish third in a new British record of 13:27 – three seconds faster that Mo Farah and Rob Denmark’s joint record. France’s Jimmy Gressier was second in 13:18.

Connor and Arter lead home strong British challenge in Barcelona

Meanwhile it may not seem very spring-like here at the moment, but the season for long distance road running IS warming up and athletes were tuning up and testing out at the Barcelona Half Marathon.

Good conditions at the start gave way to a bothersome headwind at 15k. This caused a lot of runners to slow in the latter part of the race but didn’t stop some impressive times. Kenya’s Victor Chumo broke the tape in 59:59 to go sub-1hr for the first time.

Ben Connor placed ninth with a speedy 61:34 – not far off his PB and only two weeks after winning Murcia Half Marathon. Kristian Jones finished 22nd in a 22 second PB of 63:33 ahead of Josh Griffiths (29th in 63:34, PB) Frank Baddick (38th in 63:54, PB), Scott Overall (42nd in 64:23), John Travers (48th in 64:42), Eoghan Totten (52nd in 64:58), Eric Keogh (55th in 65:11), Conor Bradley (60th in 65:35) and Thoman Hayes (63rd in 65:58). There were many other fine performances under 70 minutes so be sure to check out the full results list.

Arter 6th as Brits pack top 40

Charlotte Arter has a good history with the race, having run a Welsh record there last year to finish fifth in 69:40. This year she was chasing the likes of Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekere who won in 66:37. She couldn’t quite beat her 2019 showing but came close, placing sixth in 70:00 right behind Valencia Marathon winner Rosa Dereje. Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack finished just outside the top 10 in 71:39 and Samantha Harrison ran a huge PB to scrub out her 73:01 on Power of 10 and replace it with a 71:43 and 13th place.

Other top performances came from Ann-Marie Mclynn (16th in 72:12), Tracy Barlow – who went out in gutsy style and hung on in that headwind to run a PB of 72:12 (17th), Clara Evans (19th in 72:29, PB), Jenny Spink (30th in 74:09), Danni Nimmock (32nd in 74:47), Fionnuala Ross (34th in 74:54), Lucy Niemz (58th in 78:47), Rosemary Jennings Maun (59th in 78:36), Catherin Whoriskey (65th in 79:55) and Georgina Weston (67th in 79:55).

UK road racing roundup

A rather different half marathon experience awaited those taking part in the Kinloss to Lossiemouth Half. The point to point course had forecast a tailwind gusting into the 30s. We’re awaiting official results but a bit of Strava stalking suggests that Kenny Wilson was blown to a PB of 64:55 and Robbie Simpson ran 65:00.

In Chessington the Valentine’s 10k saw some good results. Daniel Cheeseman (City of York) raced home in 31:42. Ollie Garrod of South London Harriers (33:00) was 2nd and Ben Chown (33:20) 3rd. Isabel Brinsden of Epsom and Ewell Harriers brought home the win for the women in 36:06 with Suzannah Month (36:57) and Lisa Rooney (39:29) shortly after her.

RunThrough Battersea Park 5K / 10K beat at least the worst of the storm on Saturday morning in London. Lucy Reid was a little way outside her PB with 35:29 but claimed the win. Steph McCall of Herne Hill Harriers followed her with 35:42 and Lou Hunter rounded out the podium with a 35:53.

For the men, Matthew Dickinson of Clapham Chasers raced over the line in 31:33 ahead of Nick Bester (Herne Hill Harriers) in 31:52 and Ewan Cameron in 32:23. A mysterious man-with-no-name topped the 5k race in 16:59. Nacho Garcia (17:44) and John Ross (19:10) took the other two awards. Hannah Pullen of Waverly Harriers won the women’s 5k in 17:57, followed by London Heathside’s Amy Cook in 19:18 and Marta Acosta in 19:30.

Soggy conditions didn’t deter runners at Devon’s Tavy 5k. Local boy Lewis Mill of the Tavistock Run Project was champion of the day in 19:04 in a comfortable lead over Lee Herbert (19:20) and first lady, third overall Jodi FIsk (19:25).

The Harrow Hill 10k does what it says on the tin. Harrow AC’s Lucy Ashe took 4th overall and won the women’s race in 39:34 just two weeks after her PB at Watford Half Marathon. Sarah Gerrie came second in 42:36 and Joanne Kent was next home over the hill in 43:23. For the men, Thomas Grimes (East London Runners) took top spot in 37:26 ahead of Adam Horne (38:37) and Werner Kranenburg (38:51).

Jo Meek hit the trails in Arizona and took fifth place at the Black Canyon 100k in 9:49. In Costa Rica the Coastal Challenge, a multi stage race over 6 days with 10, 000m+ of elevation over 236k through rainforest, mountains, river valleys and beaches sounds like a beast of a race. It was enough to stop Oxford City’s Rebecca Ferry who finished the whole lot in 17:57:12. Susie Chan finished third with an overall time of 21:14:31.

Most Cross Country races seem to have been cancelled or are awaiting results. Club runners could still have their fix against each other in the North East Road Relays. Gateshead Harriers were victors in the women’s race in a combined time of 52:33 thanks to their team of Chloe Wellings, Gillian Manford Jane Giles and Innes Curran. For the men it was Kieran Hedley, Taylor Glover, Dan Melling, Rowan Bennett, Sam Hancox and Adam Pratt who grabbed the premier honours for Morpeth Harriers.

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