Despite the mud in Belgium and Storm Elin providing windy conditions closer to home, there have been some excellent performances this weekend. James Rhodes brings you the best of the racing action on the roads and cross country.

Brussels Brilliance

The European Cross Country Championships have often been successful for the Great Britain team, and 2023 was no different. Returning to Brussels for the first time since 2008, the team topped the medal table collecting seven gold, one silver and three bronze medals. Not only that, it was the most successful edition in championship history. There were three individual victories, coming from Megan Keith (U23 women), Innes FitzGerald (U20 women) and Will Barnicoat (U23 men), alongside team victories for the senior women, U23 women, U20 women and U23 men.

The U20 women’s race commenced the racing action, and Innes FitzGerald took a dominant victory, crossing the line 19 seconds of second placed Sofia Thogersen of Denmark. Afterwards, Innes said the course had suited her much more than last year’s, where she finished fourth. She completed the 5k course in 18:19. Behind, Jess Bailey finished eighth (19:31) and Lizzie Welsted thirteenth (19:47), securing the team title. Katie Pye (28th), Moli Lyons (31st) and Zoe Hunter (32nd) completed the British team.

Photo: Bjorn Paree

The U20 men’s race saw Great Britain take team silver, finishing just two points behind winners Ireland. The scoring athletes were Sam Mills, Henry Dover and Rowan Miell-Ingram, who finished in fifth, sixth and thirteenth respectively. The race over 5k provided a close finish between Denmark’s Axel Vang Christensen, previously based in Birmingham, and Niels Laros of the Netherlands, who was overtaken in the closing metres. Nick Griggs of Ireland took bronze.


The most dominant performance of the weekend came from Megan Keith, who won the U23 women’s race by an incredible 83 seconds. She has had an excellent cross-country season, which follows her European U23 Championships 5000m win and maiden World Championships appearance. It is the first time Great Britain have won this race since 2012 and Jess Coulson (Piasecki).

Megan completed the 7k course in 25:32. Top-15 finishes from Alex Millard (11th) and Eloise Walker (15th) secured the team title. Tia Wilson (34th), Lynn McKenna (35th) and Olivia Mason (44th) completed the six-strong team.

Photo: Bjorn Paree

Twelve months ago, Will Barnicoat won the U20 title in dramatic fashion. He faced a new age group this year, but an equally dramatic finish saw him win the U23 men’s race in a sprint finish from Frenchman Valentin Bresc. It was so close, the pair clocked the same time of 23:42 for the 7k course. The win follows Barnicoat’s bronze over 5000m at the European U23s in Espoo in the summer. Behind, 1500m specialist Matt Stonier (23:51) took a well deserved bronze in one of the best results of his career.

Joined by Tonbridge’s James Kingston who finished 21st in his Great Britain debut, it was another team gold for Great Britain. Tomer Tarragano (27th) and Henry Mcluckie (57th) also completed the race, with Rory Leonard sadly not finishing.

Credit: European Athletics via Getty Images

Senior Success

Having three of the top-ten finishers secured the team gold in the senior women’s race over 9k. They were led by Abbie Donnelly, who had an excellent run to take bronze individually. She finished in 34:02, behind Karoline Grovdal of Norway and Italian Nadia Battocletti. It was Grovdal’s third senior title, whilst Battocletti had moved up from the U23 ranks, which she won last year. Abbie finished ninth twelve months ago and has had a fine season.

Behind, Jess Warner-Judd rallied well to finish fifth (35:20), with Izzy Fry tenth (35:37). One place behind was Poppy Tank (35:42), with Amelia Quirk fourteenth (36:03). In her Great Britain debut, Niamh Bridson Hubbard finished nineteenth (36:27). Only the top-three score, but the team title would likely have been won had it been four, five or six to score.

Photo: Bjorn Paree

Last up was the senior men’s race. In the absence of Jakob Ingebrigtsen, there was no clear favourite, which led to an exciting race. Hugo Milner, who has transitioned over the past couple of seasons to focus on the triathlon, won the trials race in Liverpool and took an early lead, alongside Frenchman Yann Schrubb. The pair took it in turns at the front over the first four of six laps. The Frenchman started to move away on the penultimate 1.5k loop, and did not relinquish the lead from that point. A tough last lap saw Hugo slip to fourth, finishing in 30:27, ten seconds shy of the win. Magnus Tuv Myhre of Norway finished second and Belgian Robin Hendrix third. The British team finished fifth in the team race. Calum Johnson (23rd), Zak Mahamed (27th), Angus McMillan (38th), Alfie Manthorpe (44th) and Callum Elson (59th) also competed.

Photo: Bjorn Paree

The mixed relay quartet of Josh Lay, Bethan Morley, Adam Fogg and Khai Mhlanga won bronze, finishing behind France and the Netherlands.

Photo: Bjorn Paree

Terrific in Telford

Sometimes, it is hard to know what race should headline the road results of the round-up. It is rather easier this week, thanks to the impressive depth seen at the Telford 10k. There are not many races that would see 54 men run inside 30 minutes (52 gun time) and 41 women inside 35 minutes (40 gun time).

Georgia Bell took over three minutes off her PB, taking victory in the women’s field in 32:23 (32:22 chip). It was her first race over the distance since January 2020, so an improvement is maybe expected given she has improved over 1500m, 3000m and 5000m on the track this summer. Just three seconds separated her from Lauren McNeil, who’s 32:26 (32:20 chip) improved her best by over a minute. Lauren won the Manchester Half Marathon in a PB of 70:01, and Telford was her first 10k since 2021.

A possibly unexpected face finished third; 800m specialist Alex Bell. It wasn’t only her 10k debut, but her previously longest road race was over three miles, so double the distance. She clocked an impressive 32:59 (32:56 chip) to complete the podium. Quite a range, having run 1:59.28 for 800m this summer.


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Behind, there were PBs for Nancy Scott in fifth (33:12, 33:10), Almaz Nerurkar in seventh (33:19, 33:17) and Megan Gadsby in eighth (33:25, 33:19). Natasha Phillips (33:06, 33:03 chip) and Sophie Wallis (33:18, 33:18) finished fourth and sixth respectively.

Close Finishes

Five seconds separated the top-five in a strong men’s race. In his first race since the Great South Run in October, Marc Scott took victory in 28:36. It is just five seconds shy of his fastest time of the year, from Manchester in May. Behind, brothers Charles and George Wheeler clocked identical times of 28:40, with Charles given second on the results. However, George’s chip time is one second faster with 29:39. It was a considerable PB for Charles, having raced the distance just once before, and a debut for George.

Dewi Griffiths’s 28:41 (28:40 chip) for fourth is his fastest 10k since 2017, whilst Scott Stirling improved by almost a minute with the same gun and chip time in fifth. Behind, there were lifetime bests for Jack Gray in sixth (28:45, 28:44 chip) and Charlie Brisley in eighth (29:09, 29:08). Alex Lepretre (29:06, 29:05) finished seventh.

Elsewhere, just two seconds separated Jason Vranek (32:08) and Ollie Thorogood (32:10) at the Aberystwyth 10k, with David Cole (32:51) third. The margin of victory was larger for Emma Price (39:05) in the women’s field. She finished over one minute ahead of Polly Summers (40:10) and Ffion Morgan (40:55).

Hayley Gill (36:37) and Luke Beresford (33:38) were quickest at the Bolsover 10k. Matthew Lock (37:12) and Sarah Overington (42:15) won the Chiltern Hills Invitational 10k.

RunThrough’s midweek Chase the Moon Olympic Park provided Michael McCarthy (33:39) and Chloe Wilkinson (38:45) with commanding victories. Their ever-popular Battersea Park 10k saw Laura Thompson (37:39) and James Hoad (31:41) win on Saturday. Seventy six runners finished in under 40 minutes.

Christmas Getting Closer

It appears plenty of runners love taking part in a race when it comes with a Christmas-themed name. Kate Maltby (37:30) and Sam Burnstone (34:30) won the Langdale Christmas Pudding 10k, whilst the Broad Haven Christmas Pudding 10k went to Edwards Clements (34:32) and Lucy Walwin (42:49).

Benjamin Douglas (39:10) and Rochelle Ramsden (44:33) took victories at the South Leeds Bah Humbug 10k. Not too far away in York, Ruth Drauself (42:33) and Ellis Murray (40:03) won the Chase the Pud 10k.

Steve Crowe (36:40) and Oceana Lindgren (46:16) crossed the line first at the Chasewater Christmas 10k. The associated 5k went to James Wilson (20:23) and Suzy Street-Hall (21:57) who finished third overall. Rachel Cameron (46:15) and Jevgenij Rusak (39:36) won the Salcey Christmas 10k.

Sarah Murphy (42:07) and Daniel Orr (37:25) crossed the line first at the excellently named Tatton Yule Yomp 10k. Back in Wales, Sian Edwards (47:20) and Jacob Tasker (40:13) were victorious at the Merthyr Mawr Pudding Race 10k.

The Chatham Maritime Christmas Dash 5k saw Amy Dizon (19:09) and Sean Barwick (16:35) cross the line first. The Flood Light Festive 5k in Stourport went to Robert Meredith (16:36) and Nicole Bevan (19:25).

Over imperial distances, there were wins for Harrie Smith (68:10) and Howard Bristow (58:37) at the Mince Pie 10 in Peacehaven, and Shane Boxall (27:05) and Victoria Wadley-Smith (31:55) at the Southend Rudolph 5.

The 30th anniversary running of the Maidstone Harriers Turkey Run, over 6.5 miles, gave wins to John O’Mahony (45:37) and Kay Sheedy (49:40). Niall Malone (40:23) and Heather Tomlinson (43:56) won the Longridge Christmas Pudding 7.

Longer Distances

In conditions slightly different to those closer to home, Hattie Freeman had an excellent outing at the Malaga Half Marathon. She took victory in 73:46, improving her PB by almost two minutes. Over double the distance, Carl Avery ran the Malaga Marathon in 2:21:39.

In his first half marathon since 2020, Tom Evans (66:26) took a commanding win at the Keyworth Scouts Turkey Trot Half Marathon. He was joined on the winner’s spot by Claire Frankland (82:42). George Phillips (70:35) and Kelly Barnett (81:24) were quickest at the Milton Keynes Winter Half Marathon.

Imogen Campbell-Black (86:20) and Matt Chipping (69:12) crossed the line first at the Dorney Lake Half Marathon. The associated 10k went to Daire Stack (35:05) and Michelle Moran (41:31), and the 5k to Katherine Streams (19:19) and Ben James (18:15).

Wins at the Run Heaton Park Half Marathon went to Andrew Snowdon (84:30) and Natasha Coveney (88:07). On the same course, Katie Halligan (41:25) and Phil Richardson (35:07) won the 10k whilst the 5k went to Joseph Souza (19:52) and Natalie Apted (22:43).