The Brits hit the US track again as Segrave, Tracey, Bird and West take part in a humid Texas Qualifier, Lake Biwa Marathon bows out in sensational manner, and champions are decided in the virtual road relays

After Eilish McColgan and Marc Scott’s success last weekend it was time for another batch of athletes to hit the track in the US and aim for Olympic Qualifying times. The Texas Qualifier was split over two evenings – with the Friday being aimed at development and US Trials qualifying times and the Saturday for all out Olympic Qualifiers.

The event used similar technology to the wavelight seen at Night Of 10000m PBs last year as well as official pacers. In the end, the warm humid conditions made it hard for many to hit the times there were looking for, but there was still some great racing. Kicking off the action on the Friday, Steeplechaser Lizzie Bird who set a new 4:16.6 PB last August, joined the 1500m race and finished 8th in 4:21.19 before then going on the pace the 10000m.


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A post shared by Lizzie Bird (@lizziebird410)

Onto Saturday and after her win last weekend, Hannah Segrave was back in action alongside Adelle Tracey in the 800m. Segrave looks to be starting her season in great form, running 2:01.33 to take third place behind dominating performance from Ajee’ Wilson (1:58.93) and Kaela Edwards. (2:01.33). She beat compatriot Tracey, who was fourth in 2:01.56.

James West was originally slated to run in what was set to be a very competitive 5,000m, but switched to the 1500m – perhaps because there seems to have been a huge dropout rate in the planned lineup of his original race.

Whether that was the right decision or not is hard to know as there seems to be something of a glitch in the results site for that race, but we do know that West (PB 3:34.7) finished 3:42.68. It was Justin Knight of the US who took the win in 3:36.62


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A post shared by 〘James West〙 (@j_westy96)

It’s worth highlighting one particular standout performance of the event: Konstanze Klosterhalfen set a new German record and hit the Olympic standard, winning in 31:01.71 in her first ever 10,000m race. She lapped the entire field including athletes who ended up setting really solid PBs. You can re-watch the action here.

Wightman steps up on the roads

Stephanie Moss set an indoor 800m PB of 2:07.39 at the Big 12 Champs in Texas. In Jacksonville Florida, Jake Wightman showed up and won out in the Ortega River Run 5 mile race in. He broke the tape in 24:20 to deny local guys Sem Sultanov (24:46) and Christopher McCaffrey (26:58). A nice way to finish up his US jaunt.


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A post shared by Jake Wightman (@jakeswightman)

England Athletics Virtual Road Relays concluded their National stage last week. 50 clubs qualified for the round which saw 1,026 runners take part. As with the regional stages, each runner completed five miles, with the fastest four men and four women scoring for their club.

Wirral AC were top of the pile at the end of the week, claiming a well earned victory thanks to TJ Jones (24:46), Ethan Brady Jones (24:51), William Strickley (25:23), Daniel Hayes (26:28), Sophie Tarver (27:11), Keira Brady-Jones (27:43), Emily Kearney (27:43) and Ellen Mary Kearney (28:34) who logged a combined time of 3:32:39.

The club now competes against the winners of similar competitions in Wales (Lliswerry Runners), Scotland (Edinburgh Uni Hare & Hounds) and Northern Ireland (NorthBelfast Harriers) on 19-22 March. John Heap, Chairman of Wirral AC, said:

“This is a fantastic achievement of which our coaching team and young squad should be incredibly proud. Wirral AC is only four years into a development programme designed to revive the club, a team-based approach to coaching has allowed us to quickly scale-up and integrate new athletes, new coaches and create new opportunities in the sport. …The strength building in our women’s team can be clearly seen, and with the development of our men’s team on the same trajectory, but two to three years behind, we believe the best is yet to come.”

Click here to view the full results on OpenTrack. City of Norwich AC were second in the club rankings followed by Aldershot, Farnham & District. Overall, Phil Norman was top of the men’s times in 23:02 (WGEL). Fast Running’s own Hannah Irwin was fastest lady for Guildford and Godalming AC in 26:56.00.

Impressive performances across the home nations

For Scotland, Edinburgh University Hare and Hounds will be progressing to the next round thanks to Holly Page (27:55), Naomi Lang (28:04), Alice Goodall (28:42), Katie Lowery (30:12), Eddie Narbett (24:26), George Rudman (24:37), Max Milarvie (24:45) and Callum Tharme (25:32). Edinburgh AC and Bellahouston Harriers are likely to take the runner up spots.

In the Welsh competition Katy Roy of Chepstow Harriers ran 30:15 top place top female, while Pontypridd Roadents AC logged the top three men’s times, with Paul Graham leading the rankings in 24:58.00. Andrew Milligan was fastest male in the Northern Ireland competition, logging a 24:44 run for Belfast Harriers while Jessica Down took top honours for the women in 27:18.00 for North Down AC.

Sensational performances at Lake Biwa Marathon

We’ve been focussing a lot more on the shorter distances lately as track racing is much easier to organise in a covid compliant manner. However, perhaps we are seeing some long-distance light at the end of the tunnel because today the first competitive real-life marathon took place in a long time.

Japan’s Lake Biwa Marathon always has a great depth of field and this was to be its final year before being absorbed into the mass-participation Osaka marathon – it certainly aimed to go with a bang. Boasting 53 runners under 2:12 on its startlist, the race didn’t disappoint thanks to near perfect conditions and pacing teams who were tasked with going under the Japanese national record.

There was a period of time when the record looked to be slipping from view but at 36km Kengo Suzuki used a cunning drinks-station-manoevre to drop the hammer on his unsuspecting rivals and surged away to finish in 2:04:56. That makes him the first Japanese man to break 2:05 beating the course record (Wilson Kipsang) by 1:17 and setting a huge PB by five and a half minutes. Behind him were two youngsters who were only running their second marathons (Hijikata and Hosoya) which suggests there are great things to come in the future of Japanese marathon running.

For those of you who followed that Boston marathon when Des Linden won in horrific conditions – you may be interested to know that the men’s winner that year and prolific racer, Yuki Kawauchi, finished in a PB of 2:07:28. In fact, the top 15 were all PBs or debuts (bar the winner) and came in under 2:08:00.

As the Fast Running team commented: “imagine running 2:09:54 and being 42nd”. If you want to watch a masterclass in race-manship, skip to 12:23 here and watch Suzuki drop the hammer shortly after you hear the commentator say “special drink

In other news…

We reported at the end of January on Keely Hodgkinson’s U20 800m world indoor record of 1:59.01 which she set in Vienna. It hasn’t yet been ratified, but if it is then unfortunately it has already been beaten by Texas A&M’s Athing Mu. Mu has been flying recently and took down her previous best of 2:01.7 to a stunning 1:58:40. Well Keely, you better go get that record back!

Euro Indoors quad announced, with several withdrawals

British Athletics announced its squad for the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships, Toruń, Poland (4-7 March). Holly Archer and Katie Snowden will be taking care of the women’s 1500m, with Amy-Eloise Markovc, Verity Ockenden and Amelia Quirk looking after the 3000m.

For the men, it is Piers Copeland, Archie Davis and Neil Gourley who will be representing GB over 1500m and Andy Butchart and Jack Rowe in the 3000m. Marc Scott was offered a place but we hear that he has declined and plans to race a 5k on Monday 6th instead. Phil Sesemann is in the running to be called up as a reserve. You can see the full list here.

And finally, back on the marathon tip – Athletics Kenya have confirmed their women’s marathon squad for Tokyo 2020 – Brigid Kosgei, Peres Jepchirchir, Ruth Chepng’etich and Vivian Cheruiyot. We’ll have to wait and see which of the UK athletes will be up against them when they put their lockdown training to the test in Kew Gardens on March 26th.