Chris Thompson launched his track campaing into the new season on the front foot as he worked his way to a substantial indoor PB of 7:49.14 over 3000m from the off on the second day of the UW Invitational in Seattle, the ‘capital’ of grunge.
At the same time, he had to give way to the sharper footwork of in-form Cameron Levins in the late stages as the Utah runner completed an excellent double along with a 13:42.90 in the 5000m the previous day.
The Briton was eager to pursue a fast time from the beginning and never allow the pace to slip at any stage so deputised as pacemaker for large spells of the race, with Sam Chelanga (KEN) putting in a brief stint at the ‘wheel’ halfway through.
Into the final third, ‘Thommo’ forced the pace to open a slight gap at the front round the penultimate circuit but Levins quickly responded to surge past into the lead as the bell came in sight, winding it up round the last lap.
Thompson dug deep to chase hard on the heels of the Canadian but his lack of sharpness, as admitted later by coach Mark Rowland, saw him wanting as his rival found yet another gear off the final curve to pull away to a convincing win in 7:48.25 in the end.
Despite the defeat, there were plenty of positives to draw for the European 10000m silver medallist who also dipped inside the qualifying standard for Istanbul in the progress, although it won’t count as such due to the oversized track in Seattle.
Miles Batty (USA) also dipped under 7:50 in a time of 7:49.58 to add to a good depth in the race followed by Chelanga and Kevin Chelimo (KEN) in 7:50.52 and 7:50.86 respectively.
In the men’s 5000m, 22-year-old Matt Clowes ran a huge PB by around 50 secs into 14:05.32 for fourth to go atop the UK lists while hurdler Thomas Phillips caught the eye in topping the men’s flat 400m in a big total PB of 47.08 secs, knocking Richard Buck off the British top within only hours of the latter’s 47.63 secs in Glasgow.
Top Kenyan Sally Kipyego ran a fast 8:47.91 to clinch the women’s 3000m ahead of Katie Flood (USA, 8:55.31) while Lisa Ulh turned in a solo 15:29.85 over 5000m in other notable performances.
At the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Arizona, U23 Tom Farrell was swift out of his mark to power to a new PB of 7:52.38 in fourth over 3000m for a superb start to his season and fall slightly wide of the qyalifying standard of 7:50 for Istanbul, at least as far as he intends to stake a claim on a place there.
The 20-year-old, runner-up in the UK 5000m rankings behind Mo Farah in 2011, knocked over two seconds off his previous mark of 7:54.42 set in Seattle last February so looks well up on last year’s respective graph at this stage.
The ask for him, however, will be to stretch that sort of form beyond spring and get involved in the thick of affairs when the season peaks up and places for the Olympics are at stake.
Americans Elliott Heath and Chris Derrick battled it out to the wire with just four hundredths separating them on the line in 7:50.14 to 7:50.18, PBs for both, where Kenyan Stephen Sambu got third in 7:51.59 (PB).
European U23 finalist David Forrester could not follow the fast pace up front to trail back in 10th place in 8:02.79, sixth fastest in Britain, which wasn’t far off his PB of 8:00.06 from last winter still.
Hannah Brooks was third in the mile in a substantial PB of 4:37.87, improving by well over two seconds on her previous figure, closely behind the American duo of Kristen Gillespie and Amanda Winslow who set PBs of 4:36.94 and 4:37.30 (indoor) respectively.
Amy Harris was runner-up in the long jump with a SB of 6.36m slightly behind Arantxa King (6.42) as she is struggling to rekindle a once promising career, a former European U20 silver medallist, whereasd last summer’s UK runner-up Lorraine Ugen had a rather forgetable outing at just 5.45m – apparently not fit for some reason currently.
Sanya Richards-Ross illuminated the meet with her first indoor outing in years to storm to a brace of world-leading marks of 51.45 secs over 400m preceded by a 23.18 secs over half the distance on the opening day, coming off pleased with her overall performance.
The former world 400m champion is looking to get a disappointing couple of years out of her system and draw on a fast track towards winning that elusive Olympic gold in her career, so that was a good start in this direction.
Lawi Lalang (KEN) dominated the men’s mile to win comfortably in a world-topping 3:55.09, Irishman David McCarthy clocking 3:55.79 in Boston on the same day, while Nigerian Amaechi Morton convincingly got the better of Ben Skidmore (USA) over 400m in the fastest time in the world of 46.38 secs, with the top four past the line dipping inside 47 secs.
Further, U23 Brigetta Barrett showed that she intends to retain her number one status from last season in the country despite the return of US record holder Chaunte Howard-Lowe as she climbed over a total PB of 1.97m in the high jump, the second highest in the world below world champion Anna Chicherova (RUS).
Over in Boston, at the two-day BU Terrier Invitational, ‘Mohawk’ Mitch Goose transfered his solid country form onto the track for a strong opener of a huge PB of 7:58.11 for third in the main heat of the men’s 3000m, his first ever journey inside 8 mins by implication.
His appetite is certain to be whetted for more and faster, as well as seriously revising many of his PBs around, taking well over 12 seconds off his previous benchmark of 8:10.79 at the very same meeting a year ago.
Leonard Korir (KEN) and Erik van Ingen (USA) were in the first two positions in 7:54.59 (SB) and 7:56.21 (PB) while Brian Harvey (USA) rounded out a top four inside 8 minutes in 7:59.76 (PB).
Fellow Brit David Proctor was slightly outside that benchmark but most likely pleased with a PB of 8:02.24 of his own following in fifth where U23 Jon Gault got a PB of 14:27.09 in the 5000m.
Trinidadian Lalonde Gordon‘s breakthrough run in a total PB of 20.58 secs to sweep into second in the global lists over the 200m was the high point of the meeting, followed closely by Irishman’s David McCarthy overall PB of 3:55.79 in the mile to move also runner-up in the respective lists.
At the Indiana Relays in Bloomington, Kris Gauson kept on a sharp upturn of form to record his fourth PB in as many races this winter and entered the legendary sub 4 territory in the mile for the first time in his career, the fourth Briton to do so this term on top.
The promising Scot surged to a new lifetime mark of 3:59.95 for runner-up behind Andrew Bayer‘s 3:58.23 (SB) to make himself a fabulous present for his 24th birthday two days later, having set a huge PB of 8:01.40 over 3000m a week earlier.
In fact, his last 109m in 15.85 suggests that there is more to come going through 1500m in an indoor best of 3:44.10.
David Bishop was third in a PB of 4:00.10 (3:43.86 at 1500m) and looks as though he is going to steer inside four minutes himself next time out while ‘chaser Rob Mullett came sixth in a SB of 4:01.38 (3:44.82 at 1500m), a useful display.
Some way behind, Ross Clarke finished 10th in 4:07.09 (SB) and U23 Tom Curr trailed towards the back of the line in 4:10.98, his second PB on top of a 1:51.10 over 800m.
In the 5000m, Matt Graham set a big PB of 14:13.06 in third well behind a notable 13:48.27 by Andrew Poore (USA, iPB), with Mullett a place behind in 14:18.61 (PB). Graham impressed as an U20 two seasons ago when he set a swift 8:51.48 over the barriers but hasn’t built on that since.
Over to the women, U23 Katie Clarke and Kirsty Legg set 9:22.17 (PB) and 9:23.12 (SB) to fill the minor top three spots in the women’s 3000m, edged by Mason Cathey in 9:21.52.
James McLachlan, having not turned his 20 year, leapt to a total PB and UK leading 7.72m at the Tadd Metzger Invitational and it’s going to be interesting to see whether he could mix it with Julian Reid and JJ Jegede in the struggle for that coveted third spot in the long jump in the British team for London.
Reid, in fact, fared considerably lower at 7.52m at a meet in Texas the same weekend.