Happy Easter! The clocks have changed and the evenings are getting lighter. There may be some chocolate to be eaten this weekend, but that didn’t stop plenty of athletes hitting the road in search of a fast time. James Rhodes brings you the highlights of the racing action.

Brilliant in Belgrade

Saturday’s World Cross Country Championships saw athletes deal with unseasonably hot and sunny conditions in Belgrade. Whilst plenty of European countries chose not to attend, a strong British team travelled to the Serbian capital and – for the first time since 2013 – travelled home with silverware. Well, bronze-wear to be precise.

Unexpectedly, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda dominated the event, winning every other medal available. The former topped the medal table with eleven, including six gold. Beatrice Chebet and Jacob Kiplimo retained their senior titles from Bathurst in 2023, whilst Samuel Kibathi and Marta Alemayo won the two U20 races.

The highlight from a British perspective came in the mixed relay, where Tom Keen, Alex Millard, Adam Fogg and Bethan Morley won a fantastic bronze. All four ran well, but Adam and Bethan in particular had excellent legs to move through the field. It is Great Britain’s first medal in the mixed relay and the first at these Championships since the junior women won bronze in 2013.

Innes FitzGerald, in her first world-level competition, had the best placing individually, finishing 17th in the U20 race. She completed the 6k course in 21:10, with Jess Bailey two seconds behind in 18th. Eliza Nicholson (21:27) finished 25th with Natasha Phillips (21:42) 30th. That saw the British team finish fifth, just two points behind the United States.

In the senior women’s race, Abbie Donnelly had one of the best races of her career to finish a fine 20th. She completed the 10k course in 33:17 to finish four places higher than in Bathurst in 2023. Impressively, it is also the best placing by a British athlete in the senior women’s race since 2015.

Abbie Donnelly earlier this year. Photo: James Rhodes

Lauren McNeil (35:05) and Alice Goodall (35:10) finished 45th and 46th respectively. Sadly, Lauren Heyes (a late replacement for Jess Warner-Judd) and Niamh Brown did not finish.

No (Barni)coat Needed

The senior men’s race saw Will Barnicoat deliver an excellent performance to finish 27th in 29:39 over the 10k course. Given the calibre of athletes ahead of him, it is surely one of the best results of his career, particularly given he is still U23. That is the best placing by a British athlete in the senior men’s race since Mo Farah’s 20th in 2010. Both Calum Johnson (30:37) and Tom Evans (30:16) both finished inside the top-50, in 44th and 49th respectively. James Kingston (68th) and Scott Stirling (74th) raced well in the world-level debuts.

Will Barnicoat last December. Photo: European Athletics via Getty Images

Quinn Miell-Ingram was the best placed Brit in the U20 men’s race, finishing 31st (24:50) over 8k. Close behind was Craig Shennan (35th) with James Dargan 47th and Henry Dover 62nd.

Speedy in Scotland

Annabel Simpson clocked an impressive 54:35 to win the Tom Scott Memorial 10 in Motherwell. The event incorporated the Scottish 10 Mile Championships, drawing some speedy runners. That time is the second fastest of Annabel’s career, her fastest set at the same event in 2022. Virginie Barrand (55:49) and Sara Green (59:15) completed the podium. Lewis Hannigan (49:07) was one of four men to run inside 50 minutes. It is his debut over the distance and, according to Power of 10, the longest race of his career. Sean Chalmers (49:18) finished second, also a ten-mile debut, with Ryan Thomson (49:35) taking over a minute off his PB in third.

Photo: Scottish Athletics

London Preparation

This one is a little complicated, as we understand that the race organisers allowed Marc Scott to use the closed roads course of the Gloucester Half Marathon to practice marathon pace as part of his preparations for his marathon debut in London. The results have him as winning in a time of 64:45, but we understand he ran without a chip and actually finished inside 64 minutes, having set out to run at marathon pace. Second on the online results page but the overall race winner was another soon-to-be marathon debutant, George Beardmore with 66:52. Alice Tredgett (82:33) was the fastest female competing ahead of Ruth Taylor (86:16).

Mohamed Hashi (68:30) had a good outing at the Kew Gardens Half Marathon, finishing almost three minutes ahead of Ollie Garrod (71:23) in second. That time is over a minute faster than he ran at last month’s Hampton Court Half Marathon. Ellen Mcleod (79:41) enjoyed a larger margin of victory in the women’s field with Jessica Caughtry (84:20) taking second. Ellen improved her PB by an impressive 94 seconds and ran inside 80 minutes for the first time.

Holly Stables (85:41) and Joshua Morland (79:31) won the Westonbirt House Easter Half Marathon. The associated 10k went to Chris Stockdale (35:15) and Millie Porter (38:40).

Alex Ediker (31:42) and Sarah Potter (35:02) won Friday’s Salford 10k, whilst the Victoria Park 10k went to India Frost (36:47) and James Connor (31:03). Matt Ashby (33:58) and Amie Reed (39:15) set the fastest times at the St Albans Easter 10k, as did Jordan Thomas (32:34) and Amanda Kelly (38:42) at the Crewe 10k. Sarah Bischoff (38:27) and Marcus Etheridge (32:04) crossed the finish line first at the Kew Gardens 10k.

Still Going

There were no shortage of 10k races over the long weekend. Returning to London where Ludvig Johansson (33:43) and Philippa Brown (40:28) won the Regent’s Park 10k. Exeter Harrier Simon Fox (31:47) and Rebecca Ezra-Ham (36:30), the latter finishing over a minute ahead of Atsede Gidey (37:39), won the Exeter Fast Friday 10k.

Keeping with the Easter theme were Robert Meredith (35:45) and Rebecca Harrison (42:44) in winning the Chasewater Easter Egg 10k. Jamie Shingler (35:48) and Jo Marriott (47:44) crossed the finish fastest at the Leominster Easter 10k. Laura Hands (19:29) and Luke Bailey (17:29) won the associated 5k.

Aidan Daniel (34:18) and Georgie Greenwood (39:55) won the Gloucester 10k. The fastest times at the Henley River 10k were set by Brandon Cuell (37:43) and Freya Wilkinson (46:29). James Anderson (32:18) and Alexandra Sneddon (36:40) were victorious at the North Tyneside 10k. Finally, racing over trail, the Guiseley Gallop 10k provided Ruth Kitchen (43:47) and Jack Cummings (35:38) with victories. Kelly Richmond (41:24) and Martin Lucas (34:19) took victories also, but at the Helmsley Trail 10k.

Final Straight

Nic Torry had an excellent run at the Maidenhead 10 on Friday, in his first year as a V45. His time of 50:56 puts him fifth on the British all-time list for the age group and is the fastest in 24 years. Daniel Brookling (51:20) and Alex Gladley (51:36) completed the top-three. Just one second separated Kate Rennie (60:53) and Sophie Delderfield (60:54) for first spot amongst the women racing, with Emma Stevens (61:38) third.

Over the same distance, there were wins for Josh Carr (53:13) and Charlotte Johnston (65:07) at the Folkestone 10 and Laura Hesketh (64:09) and Simon Croft (57:14) at the Caldervale 10.

Forty-five seconds separated Matthew Skaife (26:32) from the rest of the field at the Hale Village 5. Hannah Cowley (29:18) was the quickest female finishing 32 seconds ahead of Rachel Mason. Christopher Ryan (25:54) and Rosie Weston (29:05) won the Sudbury 5, and Madelina Barker (30:58) and Chris Burgoyne (27:02) the Writtle 5.

On the Isle of Wight, Katie Ironside (54:01) and Joseph Wade (44:16) secured commanding victories at the Newport to Ryde 7. In the shortest distance of the round up, Friday’s Crown to Crown 5k provided wins to Dylan Schubert (17:23) and Olivia Forrest (18:46). Also midweek, Stella Cross (18:08) and George Ravenhill (16:07) won the Leeds 5k.