Last weekend saw the inaugural World Road Running Championships take to the streets of Riga, Latvia.
A strong team were flying the flag for Great Britain and NI across the three distances (1 mile, 5k and half marathon) with Cambridge and Coleridge’s Callum Elson securing a stunning silver medal over the men’s one mile event.
It was such a tight race with around twenty athletes still in contention with the finish line in sight. Pressing wide Callum got himself into a fantastic position. Striking at the right time, his quick attack to the line saw him secure silver behind USA’s Kessler in a new lifetime best of 3:56.41.
Afterwards Callum said:
“It’s unreal – I just got stuck in. I ran with a bit of personality and authority. Someone has got to win, and I thought I had a good chance of winning it. If you ran that race ten times over, you’d get a different winner each time. But when we were coming into the final 100m and we were three abreast, I just thought if you don’t give it a go and try to win, you are going to go to bed tonight and regret it. So, I thought, ‘strike now and give it everything’. I just about held on for a medal. I was fading badly, so another 50 metres I would have been in a world of trouble.
“I got out hard on the first 400m. I took the first corner and was probably in the top five but between 400m and 1200m I’d gone back and back, but weirdly enough, the road just opened up and I got back with the group. I caught a second wind. In your mind as a runner, you can just tell if you have got one more gear. I could see the finish line so just decided to go for it, because I knew otherwise, I would regret it.”
Elson wasn’t the only British medal winner of the championships as the women’s half marathon team took home a brilliant team bronze. The team made up of Sam Harrison (Charnwood, Vince Wilson), Calli Thackery (Hallamshire), Abbie Donnelly (Lincoln Wellington, Rob Lewis) and Wales’ Clara Evans showed the strength and breadth of British distance running. It was Calli Thackery who was the first Brit home after keeping with the leaders for the first 10km, Thackery held her own and set a brand-new personal best over the distance of 1:08.65 – exactly 30 years to the day since her father Carl Thackery also won team bronze at the 1993 World Half Championships! On the race, Calli said:
“The girls did brilliantly today. It has been a great atmosphere amongst the team during the few days we have been here. We all remained positive about our chances and backed ourselves, so we are all really pleased to win that bronze medal.”
Close behind her teammate, Sam Harrison was pipped by the Moroccan athlete crossing the line in ninth place in a time of 1:09:26, with Abbie Donnelly coming home in 25th (1:11.08).
After setting a new 5km PB in Newcastle last month, Verity Ockenden (Swansea) was hungry for more targeting a top ten finish which she managed to secure. Bettering her time from the Great North 5k, Verity managed to shave another 8 seconds off her time for 8th position (15:18). Also in PB form was Morpeth’s Scott Beattie (Mike Bateman) who bettered his 5km best to 13:32 in the men’s 5k event.
In the women’s mile race, Birchfield’s Sarah McDonald (Andrew Walling) battled back after a tough few years of injury to finish 16th (4:40.14) in a highly competitive field as Kenyan world record holder Faith Kipyegon went out fast before being beaten to gold and silver by the two Ethiopian athletes.
The final event of the championships saw the men take on the half marathon course. Mahamed Mahamed (Idris Hamud) was the first Brit home securing 27th place in the last couple of metres in a time of 1:01.33. An impressive sprint finish at the Big Half this year saw Jack Rowe take an early lead of the British contingent but faded towards the line to finish in 30th place (1:01.39). Team Captain Jonny Mellor (Liverpool) produced his best half marathon to date as he edged under 62 minutes for the first time, finishing in 1:01.59 for 34th place.
See the full results on the World Athletics website.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland Medals :
Silver: Callum Elson [Men’s Mile]
Bronze: Women’s Half Marathon Team [Calli Thackery, Sam Harrison, Clara Evans and Abbie Donnelly]
Image by Adam Nurkiewicz