An exciting weekend that delivered fast times both at home and abroad. James Rhodes brings you the highlights of a busy weekend including on-the-ground coverage from the SportsShoes Podium Festival.

Podium Perfection

If there is one thing that Podium is able to deliver, it is fast and competitive races. Usually, they come with little or no fuss, fast times on a fast course. The SportShoes Podium Festival took it up a notch, whilst maintaining that most important factor. New College in Leicester played host to the event with sportswear brands, live music and top-notch commentary.

The athletes made the most of the opportunity. The afternoon culminated with a senior men’s race in which World Champion over 5k, Hagos Gebrhiwet, took the win in 13:19. That is the fastest time recorded in the UK for the distance.

Photo: James Rhodes

In amongst a flurry of fast times from international athletes, Will Barnicoat was the fastest Brit with 13:43. He ran a fair proportion of the race solo in an impressive effort and was rewarded with a 61 second PB. Although, it was his first race over the distance since 2021.

He was closely followed by James West (13:44), Jake Wightman (13:52) and Zak Seddon (13:55) who all set lifetime bests. With around 1,000 athletes competing there are far too many performances to mention them all. However, a couple of noteworthy performances came from 800m specialist Ben Pattison (14:05) and Olympic marathoner Derek Hawkins (14:41). It was Hawkins’ his first race since last May and his first 5k for over five years. His brother Callum raced also, clocking 15:12 on his return from injury in his build up to the London Marathon. An impressive 66 men ran 14:30 or under.

Photo: James Rhodes

Fast Times Continue

Asmarech Anley of Ethiopia won the elite women’s race in 14:59. She was closely followed by Kenyan Caroline Nyaga, who recorded the same chip time. The pair ran ahead of the pacemakers from the outset, and the commentators noted they were close to World Record pace at halfway. Driving rain undoubtedly didn’t help when trying to maintain that pace in the closing kilometres.

Abbie Donnelly (15:18) continued her excellent 2024 with a fourth place finish and a seven second PB. That time moves her into the top-ten on the British all-time rankings. Behind, Melissa Courtney-Bryant (15:27) and Verity Ockenden (15:27) were inseparable. Melissa improved her PB by 31 seconds in her first road 5k since 2017.

Photo: James Rhodes

Kate Axford (15:34) and Megan Davies (15:34) also set considerable PBs as did Amelia Quirk (15:35) just one second behind. In all, 21 women ran inside 16 minutes and 44 inside 16:30.

Photo: James Rhodes

Paralympic medallist Hannah Taunton (16:43) and Thomas Crockett (14:13) won the respective ‘b’ races.

James Young and Erin Wallace won the time-trial event, where athletes ran a lap (approximately 980m) setting off in one-minute intervals. Times in the men’s race were particularly close, with the top five separated by three seconds. 0.34s separated second and fourth.

Full results are available here.

California Dreaming

The Ten; 25 laps of a California track in mid-March. The Sound Running event once again delivered a flurry of excellent performances. The highlight from a British perspective came from Megan Keith in her 10,000m debut. The Scot finished fourth in a high-quality field in 30:36.84. That is an Olympic qualifying time that puts her fourth on the British all-time list. Only Eilish McColgan, Paula Radcliffe and Jess Warner-Judd have run faster. It was also within the qualifying standard for the European Championships in Rome, something Amy Eloise Neale (31:56.01) also secured.

Photo: James Rhodes

The men’s race saw Patrick Dever move to second on the British all-time rankings with 27:08.81. Only Mo Farah has run faster. It was outside the exceptionally tough Olympic standard of 27:00, but a 15 second PB nevertheless. Charles Hicks (27:33.58) and Jack Rowe (27:54.55) also ran considerable PBs. The former was comfortably inside the European Championships Q whilst Jack ran under 28 minutes for the first time. In an earlier heat, European U23 Champion Rory Leonard (28:04.83) improved his best by 16 seconds.

Sadly Jess Warner-Judd and Scott Beattie did not finish. Racing over 1500m, Henry McLuckie (3:38.64) was just one second shy of his PB in his season opener.

On the Roads

For the first time of the spring season, there’s a marathon to include in the Weekend Round Up! Dan Osborn-Nash (2:27:19) and Hayley Weston (3:07:24) recorded victories at the Great Welsh Marathon in – you’ve guessed it – Wales.

It is fair to say that the Bath Half Marathon was one of the quickest half marathons of the weekend. As she works towards next month’s London Marathon, which will be her first since the European Championships in 2022, Becky Briggs won in 74:24. That was about half a minute shy of her time at the Brass Monkey Half Marathon, but a good performance given the conditions. There were significant PBs for Anna Domville (74:54) and Kate Olding (75:16) in second and third. Both had never broken 77 minutes prior to this race.

In the men’s field, Omar Ahmed (64:42) was victorious in his first road race of the year. He finished over thirty seconds ahead of Dylan Evans (64:54 PB) and Alex Lawrence (65:37). The first 32 finishers all did so inside 70 minutes.

Elsewhere, Jordan Skelly (66:48) had an impressive run at the North Lincolnshire Half Marathon. That is his second fastest time and his first over the distance since August 2022. Elliot Smales (67:14) and William Strangeway (67:25) completed the top-three of the men’s race. Meanwhile, Heather Townsend (74:52) finished ahead of Camilla Mcknespiey (76:59) and Abbie Pearse (77:26) amongst the women racing. Sarah Kemshall (35:36) and Matthew Bowser (31:16) won the associated 10k.

Josh Griffiths (68:34) and Lydia Shaw (90:23) set the fastest times at the Great Welsh Half Marathon.

Still Going

At the Liverpool Half Marathon, Matt Crehan (68:05) set the fastest time, his quickest since 2022. He was followed across the line by Ian Lawton (68:18). Fay Hughes (81:49) was the fastest female, finishing ahead of Isabelle Jones (82:07). Rachael Burns (59:02) and Alistair Rutherford (51:56) won the associated 10 miler.

Serena Walker (86:51) and Thomas Charles (69:43) crossed the finish line first at the Wigan Festival Half Marathon. An associated 5k was won by Karl Darcy (15:23) and Eleesha Charnley (18:23). Mark Emmerson (70:54) and Hannah Russell (80:25) won the Carlisle Half Marathon, with the associated 10k going to Emma Neil (37:29) and Dan Caven (35:25). Alex Gladley (67:44) and Carolyn Hay (85:59) took the honours at the Colchester Half Marathon.

Sophie Pilkington (1:58:01) and Darren Coward (1:41:50) set the fastest times at Saturday’s challenging Leighton Hall Trail Half Marathon. Billy Stephens (47:20) and Johana Mackova (49:40) won the 10k. The Richmond Riverside Spring Half Marathon provided Jacob Milner (78:06) and Ella Waldman (80:54) with victories. The 10k saw Lennart Bocken (39:24) and Kathryn Tickle (45:47) set the fastest times.

Ben Plummer recorded an impressive victory at the Sherwood Pines Half Marathon. His time of 72:51 was almost eight minutes quicker than the second placed Richie Talbot. Ellie Sprake (97:13) was quickest of the women racing. Grace Quigley (43:53) and George Holden (37:32) won the associated 10k.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Charlie Williams (73:12) and Gill Pearson (85:14) at the Weymouth Half Marathon, and Neil Eddy (75:33) and Emily Harrison (89:01) at the Run Falmouth Half Marathon. Lauren Cooper (85:28) and Jonathon Astley (78:26) set the fastest times at the Merthyr Half Marathon.

Shorter Distances

The ever-popular Friday Night Under the Lights 5k returned to Battersea Park this week. In his debut at the distance (either on the roads or track), Thomas Syckelmoore ran an impressive 14:25 to take the win. He has run 8:18.99 for 3000m indoors this year, and has a 30:53 10k PB from 2023. It was a close race, with the top three separated by just three seconds. Callum Tharme (14:27) and Henry Hart (14:28) took second and third respectively.

Maddie Deadman set the fastest time of the women racing with 16:25. That represents a significant revision to her PB in her first 5k since 2020. Running in a separate heat, Steph Twell clocked 16:27 and Bea Wood 16:36.

Elsewhere, Sonia Samuels (34:38) and Joseph Carnelley (31:02) were victorious at the HSW Solicitors Nantwich 10k. Abigail Howarth (36:47) and James Westlake (30:53) won the High Legh Robert Moffatt Memorial 10k, and Dominic Baxter (32:51) and Stephanie Migliorini (38:40) the Debden 10k.

Matthew Atkinson (34:34) and Sima Lowery (43:31) finished first at the Lightwater Valley 10k. Finally for 10ks, Peter Ball (34:14) and Tamara Freeman (37:27) were quickest at the Fradley 10k whilst Simon Bennison (39:03) and Ingrid Thorp (48:25) won the Wokingham 10k.

Sophie Martin (63:31) and Sam Robins (53:59) won the Vale of York 10. The latter finished over three minutes ahead of anyone else racing. Racing over half the distance, Arun Dight (25:54) and Jessica Hoar (31:53) won the Vale of York 5. Verity Hopkins (1:57:39) and Pete Robinson (1:47:44) raced well to win the Essex 20.