Another busy weekend as the curtain draws ever closer on the track season, plus the Mo Farah finale. James Rhodes brings you the highlights of the racing action.

Farah’s Farewell

There was much more to the Great North Run than the mainstream headlines may make you think, but let’s get them out of the way first. The race was the curtain call on Mo Farah’s career with his last competitive race. It might not be his first retirement, but it did feel like the last.

The four-time Olympic Champion finished fourth in 63:28, with the last mile or so spent high-fiving the crowd as well as focusing on the end of the race. It was a fitting final race for the athlete who has more elite men wins than anyone else on the Newcastle (Gateshead and South Shields, too!) course.

The race was won by Tamirat Tola in 59:58, with Bashir Abdi second (61:20) and Muktar Edris (61:54) third. Next best amongst the Brits was Andy Butchart (64:30). An impressive sixth place finish less than 48 hours after racing over 10000m in Brussels. It was good preparation for his marathon debut in New York in November.

Andrew Heyes (65:46) finished tenth, with Carl Avery (67:17) fourteenth.

In the women’s race, there was a fine third place finish for Charlotte Purdue (69:36), two weeks out from the Berlin Marathon. Former World Record holder Peres Jepchirchir (66:45) won, with Kenyan Sharon Lodecki (67:43) second.

Sonia Samuels finished an excellent fourth in 73:43, with Amy Eloise Markovc (75:19) seventh. The latter was particularly impressive having raced over 3000m just four days earlier. Becky Briggs (77:24) and Katie Olding (78:45) also finished in the top ten.

Brilliant in Brussels

With the track season drawing towards a close, Friday saw the penultimate Diamond League of the year. Athletes headed to Brussels for the Memorial Van Damme for the first competition on a newly laid track. From a British perspective, one of the highlights of the evening came from Jess Warner-Judd in the 5000m. She improved her PB, set last year, by five seconds to 14:51.63. That time is inside the Olympic qualifying standard and saw her finish eighth in the race.

Photo: James Rhodes

Laura Muir continued her Diamond League winning ways in the 1500m, crossing the line in 3:55.34, her fastest of the season. Behind, Katie Snowden (3:58.03) and Melissa Courtney-Bryant (3:58.09) finished fifth and seventh respectively. That is the second fastest time of Melissa’s career and just 0.08 seconds shy of her PB.

Photo: James Rhodes

In the 800m, Dan Rowden (1:44.12) and Ben Pattison (1:44.32) finished fourth and fifth. Both were only 0.2 seconds shy of their lifetime bests, with Ben racing for the second time since winning bronze in Budapest.

Photo: James Rhodes

Ahead of running in the Valencia Half Marathon next month, Andrew Butchart made just his second appearance on the track in the 2023, finishing sixth in the 10000m in 28:11.60.

Photo: James Rhodes

It would be remiss to not mention Jakob Ingebrigtsen improving the 2000m World Record by over a second to 4:43.13. It may be a rarely run distance, but it is not every day that a mark held by Hicham El Guerrouj is broken.

European Round Up

A flurry of competitions took place across Europe during the week. On Monday, James West (3:35.44) ran his fastest 1500m of the year at the Gala dei Castelli in Switzerland. Just 24 hours after racing in Italy and having recently had COVID, Elliot Giles finished eleventh (3:39.10).

Two days later at the Palio Citta’ della Quercia in Rovereto in Italy, James had an excellent run over 3000m. He improved his PB to 7:39.87 and moving to fourteenth on the UK all-time list. Over the same distance, Amy-Eloise Markovc (8:45.23) and Hannah Nuttall (8:45.63 PB) also ran well. At the same meeting, Abbie Ives ended her season with 2:02.33 for 800m.

Having improved his 1500m PB in Zurich last week, George Mills continued to excel with a 3:49.64 in Pfungstadt in Germany on Wednesday. That time moves Mills to seventh on the UK all-time list and is the fastest by a Brit on the track since Andy Baddeley in 2008.

Finally, at the Memorial Borisa Hanžekovića in Zagreb, Revee Walcott Nolan set her third 1500m PB in as many races, improving to 4:03.84. Phil Norman ran his fastest 3000m steeplechase of the season (8:27.89).

Scottish Success

The Scottish domination of the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City continued, with Josh Kerr and Jemma Reekie winning the 2023 edition. A thunderstorm delayed both races, but it was conditions both athletes are used to. Josh continued his fine season winning in 3:47.9, just outside the course record of 3:47.5. Behind was George Mils, making his second round up appearance of the week (3:49.9). Jemma took her second win on the course, finishing in 4:20 with Melissa Courtney-Bryant third (4:21).

Closer to Home

Plenty has been happening closer to home also, with the autumn road racing season picking up speed. One of the fastest half marathons of the weekend was the Cheshire Half Marathon. Thomas Charles (67:46) ran well to finish just five seconds ahead of Nicholas Barry (67:51), with Simon Crawford (68:05) third. In the women’s field, Anna Klucnika (81:35) was a clear winner ahead of Tracy Rogers (83:49) and Alex O’Brien (84:15).

Edward Hobbs (69:41) and Heather Townsend (74:42) took victories at the Vale of York Half Marathon. David Mckinnon (70:14), Gary Briscoe (70:31), Sally Armitage (82:29) and Zara Knappy (83:59) joined the pair on the respective podiums.

Jack Nixon (71:46) won the Pleshey Half Marathon by exactly one minute, with Lauren Reed (85:00) the fastest female by 35 seconds.

Almost two minutes separated Lisa Thomas (84:49) from the rest of the field at the Kenilworth Half Marathon. Patrick Roddy (70:49) finished over two minutes ahead of Andy Lawrence (73:06) in the men’s entrants.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Abbie Pearse (88:27) and Daniel Haworth (75:39) at the Big Dipper Half Marathon, whilst the Richmond Half Marathon went to Louise Small (80:46) and Jay Lidbetter (75:49).

Martin Green (74:35) and Rachel Shipley (86:15) won the Caernarfon Half Marathon in Wales.

Shorter Distances

There have been plenty of opportunities to race over 10k this weekend also. One of the fastest times was set by Jamie Crowe at the Stirling 10k, with a 29:16 clocking. Natasha Phillips (33:9) was the fastest female. Staying in Scotland, Morag Hughes (38:44) and Maher Sawan (37:11) won the Kelvingrove 10k.

Paul Aston (34:36) and Jan Cook (41:27) took victories at the Severn Bridges 10k, as did Daniel Studley (31:50) and Kate Reed (35:22) at the Lightning Bolt 10k in Langley Burrell. Amy Seager (40:32) and James Pottle (40:17) won the Wingham 10k.

Jenny Laing (42:22) and Joe Rainsford (33:19) crossed the line first at the Lichfield 10k.