James Rhodes brings you the best of the results from a busy weekend of racing on the roads, track and cross-country. 

Cross-Country’s Spiritual Home

Parliament Hill is often referred to as the spiritual home of cross-country. This weekend was no different as it played host to the inaugural London International XC. The brain child of Eamonn Martin, the event had looked to bring a spectator friendly experience on a short-lap course with strong racing. The postponement of the World Cross Country Championships to the end of March mean its original objective of hosting the trials was lost; however, places remained available to senior winners. Spots for the World University Championships in Oman were also up for grabs.

Each of the women’s races delivered decisive victories, led by Abbie Donnelly in the senior women’s race. After making a decisive move on the second of five laps, she completed the 10k course in 34:32. That time was 33 seconds clear of the rest of the field. That performance guarantees her selection for the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade. This was a likely formality after her bronze at last month’s European Cross-Country Championships in Brussels.

Photo: James Rhodes

Behind, there were good performances from Lauren McNeil (34:55) and Niamh Brown (35:11) to complete the podium. Ellie Wallace and Phoebe Barker recorded the same time (35:14), with Ellie given the nod for fourth.

Innes FitzGerald winning the U20 race came as no surprise. As is standard, she went out hard and had a commanding lead within the first few hundred metres. That lead only grew over the four laps contested and she finished in 21:08, 69 seconds ahead of Eliza Nicholson (22:17). Athletes representing England filled the podium with Jess Bailey (22:28) finishing third. The race incorporated the U17 field in which Zara Redmond took victory.

Photo: James Rhodes

Olivia Forrest and Maisie Mullett won the U15 and U13 races respectively.

Marvellous by Milner

Hugo Milner has had an excellent cross-country season, despite shifting his focus to the triathlon. That continued at Parliament Hill, as he took victory in a strong and closely contested race. A pack of four had run together for much of the race; Hugo, Tom Evans. Mahamed Mahamed and Jamie Crowe.

It wasn’t until the latter part of the last lap that Milner made a decisive move that saw him finish two seconds ahead of Tom Evans (29:58 to 30:00). Tom delivered an equally impressive performance since he is best known for his ultra-running exploits. Mahamed finished third, five seconds back (30:05). Jamie Crowe was fourth (30:11) with Jeremy Dempsey (30:26) fifth.

Photo: James Rhodes

James Dargan also waited until the last lap to make his move for victory in the U20 race and finished the 6k course in 25:32. Alden Collier won the U17 race by two seconds from Iwan Thomas (20:00 to 20:02). Joseph Scanes and Craig Calver won the U15 and U13 races respectively.

The open races over 4km incorporated the BUCS trials for next month’s World University Championships. Bethan Morley (14:20) and Alex Melloy (12:57) secured victory in a race over three laps not the originally expected two. Bethan’s win was commanding at 41 seconds ahead of Tia Wilson. The men’s race provided, perhaps, the best finish of the day with Alex requiring a sprint finish to overhaul Sam Mills in the closing metres.

Photo: James Rhodes

Racing Abroad

A week after setting a European U23 Record at the Valencia 10k, Megan Keith returned to the cross-country. She recorded a strong performance to finish third at the CrossCup in Hannut, Belgium, beating some notable athletes in the process. The race was over 9km and part of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour. Naomi Tachshimowitz also raced and finished 15th.

In her first race since the World Championships in Budapest, Natasha Wilson (formerly Cockram) finished fourth in 70:06 at the Mitja Marató Santa Pola in Spain. That improves her half marathon PB by 36 seconds and makes her the second fastest Welsh woman over the distance, behind Charlotte Arter. Dewi Griffiths finished eighth in 64:15 in the men’s race. Andrew Davies (66:40) and Josh Griffiths (67:45) also raced.

Closer to Home

With the first 15 finishing inside 70 minutes, the Brass Monkey Half Marathon in York produced plenty of fast times. Sarah Potter (72:33) – younger sister of Olympian Beth – took almost two minutes of her PB whilst taking victory. Becky Briggs (73:38) was second with Eilidh Bell (76:35) third. The men were led by Hallamshire Harrier Tommy Power. He recorded a time of 66:58. Mark Bostock (67:00) and Chris Coulson (67:06) completed the top-three.

There were PBs for both Chris Rainsford (67:43) and Melissah Gibson (77:42) whilst winning the Farnborough Winter Half Marathon. Chris improved his best, set in 2018, by eleven seconds. Melissa, meanwhile, took 16 seconds off her previous fastest from Ealing last year. Rebekah Pantony (20:59) and Jim Laidlaw (19:06) won the associated 5k.

Rachael Burns (78:40) was victorious at the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon, finishing over 90 seconds clear of Heather Tomlinson (80:24) in second. Matthew Collins (69:11) was fastest overall and one of three men to finish inside 70 minutes.

Cameron Allan and Jazmine Wood set impressive times when winning the Newcastle 10k. A sprint to the finish line saw Cameron just get the better of Calum Johnson, with both recording 29:29. That time is a near-two minute improvement for Cameron and the first time he has broken 30 minutes. Denis Kiplangat (29:46) was third. The margin of victory was clearer in the women’s field, with Jasmine Wood (33:37) finishing over a minute clear of Lauren Dickson (34:48) and Emile Kearney (34:59). That time is a notable improvement for Jasmine, who’s prior best was 34:32 from last month’s Telford 10k. The race was the first in RunThrough’s Top Flight Elite Race Series, which offers a £60,000 prize pot across twelve races throughout 2024.

Photo: Race Organisers

Seyd Taha Ghafari (31:42) and Morag Miller (35:04) crossed the finish quickest at the Nigel Barge Memorial 10k organised by Maryhill Harriers. Further south, Ricky Lightfoot (32:50) and Hannah Russell (35:39) set the fastest times at the Carlisle Resolution 10k. Julie Dodd (22:22) and Jamie Ovens (17:42) won the associated 5k.

More Happening

Winning by over two minutes, Seyfu Jamal (49:30) recorded an impressive time at the Fred Hughes 10. Kate Rennie (60:36) ran well also and finished over three minutes ahead of second-placed Jen Armson (63:50). Further south, Chelsea Baker (58:13) and Cole Gibbens (53:31) won the Canterbury 10.

Erin Willmers (30:21) and David Healey (26:02) won the Romsey 5, whilst the Benfleet 15 went to Kurtis Swan (1:30:29) and Rebecca O’Kill (1:45:10).

Moving Indoors

Perhaps the best indoor performance of the weekend came from Georgia Bell. She set an outright 1500m PB of 4:03.54 at the Sparkassen Indoor Meeting in Dortmund. That time moves her to fourth on the British all-time list, behind Laura Muir, Jemma Reekie and Kelly Holmes. Revee Walcott-Nolan set an indoor PB of 4:03.93 and goes fifth on the all-time list. Both were comfortably inside the World Indoor Championships standard.

Georgia Bell in Sheffield earlier this month. Photo: James Rhodes

The Cardiff Metropolitan University Non Thomas Open incorporated a series of British Milers Club races. Piers Copeland (3:41.53) and Jenny Nesbitt (4:15.50) set the fastest times over 1500m. Indienne King (2:05.72) and Cillian Kirwan (1:51.27) did the same over 800m.

Plenty has been happening abroad also. At the Dr Martin Luther King Invitational in Albuquerque, Yusuf Bizimana continued his impressive start to 2024 with 1:46.47 for 800m. Jack Rowe (3:59.82) ran inside four minutes for the mile for just the second time. It is an impressive racing range for the Aldershot athlete with a 61:08 half marathon best.

Finally, Belgrave’s Maddy Whitman set a 3000m PB of 9:56.34 at the Aurora Grand Prix in Chicago. Christopher McLeod (8:02.92) and James Knockton (8:14.42) did the same at the Cyclone Open in Indiana.