This weekend completed a busy month of England representative competition for road running specialists, with athletes in action both home (Leeds) and away (Frankfurt).
Mainova Frankfurt Marathon
Conditions in Frankfurt were near perfect for marathon running and there were number of stand-out performances by British and English athletes.
Aldershot Farnham & District’s Steph Twell was amongst the stand-out British performances of the day with a breakthrough marathon time of 2:26:40 placing her fifth in the all-time UK rankings and setting a new Scottish record, held previously by Liz McColgan. The stand-out performance from the England team had to be 38 year-old Jenny Spink (Bristol & West) who smashed her previous best by just over four minutes to run 2:31:14 to go fifth on the 2019 UK rankings. Spink, who lives in northern Spain and does much of her training on her own, put together the perfect 26.2 miles and was still smiling as she crossed the finish line inside the Festhalle Messe Concert Hall, which is a unique feature of the Frankfurt marathon.
Paul Navesey (Crawley AC, Coach Allison Benton) was the other personal best performance of the day by almost a minute. Navesey has progressed from being a 2:27 marathon runner in 2017 to 2:17:16 in 2019 and at the age of 33 years looks capable of continuing to improve in the years ahead. Finishing just ahead of Navesey was Aaron Scott’s (Lincoln Wellington, Nick Anderson) a mere eight seconds shy of his personal best set on the same course in 2018. Experience clearly told and despite some slightly skewed pace-making at the start Scott kept a measured approach coming through strongly in the final stages.
Such is the nature of marathon running that even with perfect preparation things can still go awry come race day. Hayley Carruthers (Birchfield Harriers) had looked to be on for the Olympic qualifying standard in the build-up to the race, but despite not feeling well in the early stages of the race, battled onto 30k, before eventually calling it a day. This was a rare disappointment for Carruthers who has enjoyed a superb twelve months progress under the guidance of her coach Dan Robinson. With a best of 2:33:59 set in London earlier this year it is easy to forget that Carruthers is still a relative beginner having only started running three years ago and sub 2:30 looks well within her reach in the near future.
For Peter Le Grice (Bristol & West, self-coached) it was a race of two halves. Proud to be wearing the England vest for the first time the 37 year old was determined to leave nothing behind when it came to running for his country. The Cornishman showed no lack of courage and ambition and he committed himself to the race from the outset in pursuit of some of the East Africans. Le Grice clearly felt in great shape and training had been going well, but the intended 2:12 target pace quickly became 2:09 pace, going through the half-way point in 65:53 and by the 30k mark Le Grice was in trouble. Feeling light headed the next 12k were a bit of a blur for Le Grice who eventually staggered across the line in 2:54:05. “With wearing the England vest I was determined to finish whatever.”
Team Leader Charlotte Fisher said, "I’m proud of all the athletes, regardless of whether they achieved the results they hoped for. Marathon running is seen by many as the ultimate running challenge for a reason and there has been both agony and ecstasy for the team today, but either way you can’t fault any of them for their courage, commitment and perseverance."
Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
Back in the UK 8 England runners were in action at the Leeds Abbey Dash which produced a stellar set of 10k results in both the men’s and women’s races, with PBs a plenty.
It was a fantastic first winters morning of 2019 in Leeds after the clocks moving back, conditions were good for running fast, a little damp, sunshine and not too much of a breeze. The race was set up to be a fast one when Omar Ahmed (eventual winner 28:38) took off from the gun creating an early 100m lead on the rest of the pack. All four of our men’s England team were in this chase pack with three of them eventually running sub 29 minutes John Sanderson (6th 28:51), Alex Teuten (7th 28:54), Carl Avery (9th 28:58) and Graham Rush (13th 29:25). The men’s team were the eventual winners of the Abbey Dash team competition with Wales second and Loughborough third.
The women’s race did not disappoint as it was also a very fast one getting sucked into the quick pace set by the men. Charlotte Arter won the women’s race in a big personal best 31:34 also breaking the Welsh 10k record and like the men’s race this pulled the rest of the field to fast runs too. Our women’s team came away with great performances with the majority of them coming away with personal bests, Samantha Harrison (5th 32:34), Kirsty Longley (11th 33.40), Hannah Viner (13th 33:58) and Danielle Nimmock (16th 34:09). These performances helped the team to finish second behind the Welsh team and the North team finishing third.
Team Coach Andy Henderson said after the race, "There were many positives for all the team and I am sure they will build on these moving into the rest of the winter it was a great team to be part of."