English athletes dominate at The Big Half

English athletes dominated at The Big Half in London on Sunday with wins in both the men’s and women’s elite races and the men’s wheelchair.

Calli Thackery (club: Hallamshire Harriers), Jack Rowe (coach: Tim Eglen, club: Aldershot Farnham and District), and David Weir (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) emerged victorious whilst all six athletes in the men’s and women’s running races achieved the qualification standard for the half-marathon at the World Road Running Championships in Latvia on 1 October.

Thackery impressed again, having recently won the Adidas Podium Home Countries International 5k in Cardiff, clocking 1:09:15. Her focus now will turn towards the marathon distance and an Olympic qualifier. Rose Harvey (Clapham Chasers) with 1:10:02 and Abbie Donnelly (Rob Lewis, Lincoln Wellington / Loughborough Students) with 1:10:31, in second and third respectively, also achieved the qualifying standard for the race in Riga.

Calli Thackery at the Big Half 2023

For the men, Rowe finished in a time of 1:01:08, almost a minute quicker than his personal best over the distance. Mahamed Mahamed (Idris Hamud, Southampton) crossed the line eight seconds behind Rowe (1:01:16)  with Scotland’s Andy Butchart (Central AC) in third (1:02:15). Jonny Mellor (Steve Vernon), who represented Team England in the marathon at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games finished fifth (1:02:54), also achieving the qualifying time for the half-marathon in October. The Liverpool Harrier will have the opportunity to compete if one of the top three chooses not to run.

Jack Rowe at the Big Half 2023

Arguably the biggest story of the day saw Mo Farah (Gary Lough, Newham and Essex Beagles), make an emotional return to the capital as he completed his last ever professional race in London finishing fourth in 1:02:43.

Both the men’s and women’s wheelchair races produced dramatic finishes. Scotland’s Sammi Kinghorn (Rodger Harkins, Red Star AC) pipped Eden Rainbow-Cooper (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy), marathon silver medallist from the 2022 Commonwealth Games, by the tightest of margins. They both clocked 52:05, almost five minutes quicker than the course record, with Kinghorn being given the win on review of the photo finish. Mel Woods finished third in 58:50.

The legend that is David Weir won yet another title in London with a sprint finish as he edged out fellow Englishman Danny Sidbury (Christine Parsloe, Sutton & District AC) in a time of 47:26 compared to Sidbury’s 47:27. Fellow countryman Johnboy Smith (Christine Parsloe, Sutton & District AC), who won Commonwealth Games wheelchair marathon gold last year, came third in 47:30.

David Weir at the Big Half 2023

Thousands of people lined the route in London to watch the races which saw those competing taking in some of the capital’s most popular landmarks including Westminster, the Tower of London, and the London Eye.

Photos by Mark Shearman