Hannah Irwin gets away from the virtual to fire up a bit of hope for the summer and autumn

For quite a few months now, the only racing news we seem to be getting is about what races are being cancelled. We remain hopeful for each one, but it isn’t long before we are told they too aren’t going ahead.

It’s time to get rid of the doom and gloom that racing seems to have become and focus on those races that may actually happen! And no, I’m not talking about virtual races. I am talking about racing as we used to know it, with other people all running around the same course. Proper racing.

Whilst no licensed road races will be going ahead in July and only a few, limited track races are, there is hope for August yet. Therefore, as things stand now, what races are potentially going ahead?

Marathon maybes?

The only news regarding marathons seems to be that they are all getting cancelled one after the other. However, there are a few that may still be occurring, just with a slight, socially distant twist.

Presently, the Virgin Money London Marathon is scheduled to take place on Sunday 4th October. Whilst the organisers are facing lots of challenges, Event Director, Hugh Brasher, states they are

‘coming up with innovative ways to socially distance the event’ and they hope that ‘the world will have found a way through Covid-19 by October’.

There are no public details yet on the innovations being considered, but as time goes by more information is bound to come out. Therefore, while the date is still in the diary, keep training, so you can be ready on 4th October.

Events including Brighton Marathon, Chester Marathon and Yorkshire Marathon are still currently scheduled to take place as mass races.

Innovative solution for MK

The Rightmove Milton Keynes Marathon will be going ahead, but it’s bringing a new experience to racing as we know it.

It is an measured and approved course which is accessible for runners to race on any time from the 6th to 19th of September. You can decide what day and time in this 2-week period you would like to race.

This means, no unexpected weather turns (if it rains, go tomorrow), no crowded bus rides to the start, and no long, cramped waits at the start line. Every individual runs the same course with real timings which get submitted into the results. So, you can go for an official marathon PB.

Hamburg set to test the mass racing waters

Hamburg’s Haspa Marathon also remains in the race calendar and is due to take place on the 13th of September. The event is expected to be implementing specific social distancing restrictions.

The organisers have made the decision to have different start lines for the half and full marathon with waves being set off in 10-minute intervals. Runners will also be given predetermined assembly areas, to avoid massive crowds in single areas.

There is likely to be disinfection areas at the start and finish, as well as along the course, and all runners will be given a face covering which must be worn at the start and finish and carried with them throughout the race. The decision has also been made to remove all food stalls, changing areas and massage tents at the finish line.

With Germany on the list of countries eligible for quarantine free travel and with places still available in the half and full marathon many British runners might consider the flat fast course on the Elbe.

Organisers demonstrating their social distancing expertise at the press conference. Photo: Haspa Hamburg Marathon

Back on track

The ropening of some tracks in the UK has meant that regular track meets may be a possibility. The first two ‘normal’ track meets in the country have been confirmed by British Athletics in Guernsey. The first took place on the 14th June. The 800m was won by Sam Lesley in 2:01.39.

Whilst Guernsey have shut their borders meaning no athletes can travel to these events, the lucky locals will be able to get back to some regular racing. The next event takes place today with results expected here. More races are lined up with 1500m and steeplechase events taking place in August.

It was also announced this week that the British Athletics Championships are due to go ahead on September 4th and 5th. Whilst it may be later than expected, British champions will still be crowned.

It has however been said that this event will go on behind closed doors, therefore, no spectators will be allowed to watch. There will a live stream on the BBC on the Friday night and Saturday, so you can still catch all the action.

Guernsey leading the way

In addition to the aforementioned track races Guernsey is also hosting a cross country race taking place today with competitve racing over the 4.75 mile course.

No results are listed just yet but keep an eye on the Guernsey Athletics Facebook page for updates.

More than this Liberation/Pessimists Trophy 7 mile road race is set to go ahead in August. Maybe Fast Running need to recruit a local reporter as Guernsey looks set to be the epicentre of athletics over coming weeks!

Competitive racing expected at Preston & Antrim

The Preston 5 and 10 mile is a flat, fast 5-mile loop with great potential for setting PB’s. Back in 2019, the course was used by England Athletics for the national 5-mile road championships.

The 5-mile loop includes a mixture of fast straight roads with a scenic loop alongside the lake towards the end of the lap. The overall race winner in 2019 was Joshua Grace (AFD) in 23:43 followed by Fast10 athlete, Jack Gray (C&C), in 23:46. The fastest female finisher, also from C&C, was Holly Archer in 27:38, ahead of Annabel Simpson (Fife AC) in 28:43.

The P&O Ferries Antrim Coast Half Marathon is still written in the racing calendar. The organisers have confirmed they intend to continue with the elite and mass race if government guidance allows.

The event this year boasts an elite race featuring the likes of Ben Connor, Lily Partridge, Jo Pavey and Ollie Lockley and there are also international teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland competing.

The course itself follows the stunning scenery of Antrim and suggests itself to be one of the flattest and fastest Half’s in the UK & Ireland.


More options on UK roads

In Edinburgh, along the Silverknowes Esplanade will be the Run and Become Sri Chinmoy 5k run. The event was due to occur back in May but was rescheduled for August.

In order to adhere to advise on social distancing and limit the number of participants in a race, they will be running two separate races for men and women. This race is known to be one of the most competitive in-depth short road races in the Scottish and British calendar, and also incorporates the Scottish 5k Road Championships.

The adrenaline and buzz caused by the race is enough to bring the best out of everyone. Therefore, whether chasing a national medal or looking to break your pre-lockdown PB, this race is exactly what you are looking for. Entry is limited to 600 runners, so don’t hold back in getting your place.

The August Perseverance 5km Road Race Dash starts and finishes in Wimbledon Park Stadium. This event too has a huge range of standards as it is part of the Surrey 5km County Championships.

Therefore, Surrey’s finest are usually out in force. The course itself heads over one undulating lap within the park and over surrounding roads. The 2019 winner was Belgrave’s Andrius Jaksevicius in 15:43 and in second place was Ollie Garrod (South London Harriers) in 15:47.

Seeing as the Isle of Man Government has removed all Covid-19 gathering and social distancing restrictions, the Isle of Man half and full marathon is confirmed to be going ahead.

Whilst this is tricky for all off-island entrants due to the 2-week quarantining rule, it is great news for those living on the Island – and this includes some pretty quick runners!

Isle of Man Marathon winners – 2019. Credit: Isle of Man Marathon

The Regents Park August 10k which also includes a 5k event is considered one of London’s most popular park 10k’s. The iconic course is conducive to fast times due to its flat nature and the depth of field means you are sure to have someone pushing you the whole way.

If you are looking for a race with a little bit more eccentricity to it, then the Smugglers 10k might be the race for you. It can openly be said that it is the only race in Kent, possibly the whole country, started by a cannon firing.

There is live music playing, muskets and real pirates apparantly! The 10k route follows the seafront, along the passage infamous for its smuggling days. The route itself is also flat and fast, and the great music provides that much needed motivational surge.

Here’s to the organisers!

It’s been a very tough period for race organisers and we celebrate their innovation and flexibility in doing all they can to get some competition going. To all those races who have cancelled we send our best and that we hope 2021 will be a bumper year for you!

With a little bit of light at the end of tunnel, we are all hoping to get back to racing shortly. All of these events were still going ahead at the time of writing, however things may change depending on the circumstances so do check with the organisers.

Want to run faster? For just £30 per month athletes are provided with a Final Surge plan for each day of the week, coaching advice from Robbie Britton and Tom Craggs, as well as access to the unique Fast Running Performance community.

If you would like more information on joining the project, click here