Let’s make our usual round to pick up some interesting results from British athletes both on the early domestic scene and overseas, mainly from across the Pond, as we are turning into the top bend of the qualification race to the Olympics in London, which equates to the spring pre-season stage.

Stateside…

Andy Vernon and Julia Bleasdale put in solid displays to finish in creditable spots in the top ten of the men and women’s 5K races at the noted annual road event held in Carlsbad, California, on Sunday showing that they are building up nicely towards the summer.

World Student Games champion Vernon came home ninth in a best of 13:40 on the road, first time inside 14 mins, losing out on a higher placing to 3:31 Aussie miler Ryan Gregson and US-based Kenyan Haron Lagat, both credited with 13:39, in the closing stages and will take plenty of heart from his outing in windy conditions in his pursuing of a necessary Olympic A standard, either in the 5000 or the 10000m on the track.

Erratic young Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel turned his fiercesome kick to awesome account this once as he streaked away to a commanding victory late in the contest in 13:11, fourth fastest all-time, after seasoned campaigner and former global 5000m champion Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) did all the ‘dirty work’ running hard from the front into the wind in an identical pattern to last year’s edition.

So much so that they clocked almost identical times save the Kenyan was eventually pipped into third by rising Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet, just 17, as both were awarded with an identical 13:14, the latter emerging as a top prospect for the forthcoming World U20 Championships in Barcelona.

Tariku Bekele, the brother of great Kenenisa, followed in fourth in 13:16 to add further gloss and depth to the race while Irishman Alistair Cragg set a national best of 13:26 back in sixth place.

Having already run close to her PB in 15:45.90 in Adelaide, Australia, Bleasdale climbed up a notch to come a splendid sixth in 15:47 and might entertain some hope that she could sail near the A standard of 15:20 when the season picks up.

Double Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) ran away with affairs in 15:01 as she placed a solid dozen seconds on compatriot runner-up Werknesh Kidane (15:13), with Kenyan Pauline Korikwiang spoiling an Ethiopian full podium in third in 15:22.

Results

http://running.competitor.com/cgiresults?eId=36&eiId=80

At the Texas Relays in Austin, Chris Gowell savoured maybe the best moment of his career so far as he rose a comfortable winner of the Jerry Thompson Mile in a big PB of 4:01.08 to erase his previous best of 4:03.93, set in Cwmbran (Wales) in August 2010.

The 26-year-old crossed the line nearly two seconds ahead of second-placed Kenyan Jackson Kivuva where Kevin Ondrasek was a close third in 4:03.04.

Gowell also competed over 800m two days earlier to take fifth in a season starter of 1:49.79 amidst a close order for the minor spots as American miler Leo Manzano struck out down the home straight a convincing victor in a new meeting record of 1:47.65, implying a likely shift of weight on the longer distance for the Brit.

‘chaser Lennie Waite got the same place along the finishing line of the women’s metric mile in a SB of 4:19.44 in a follow-up to an early world-leading 9:55.91 in Houston, the capital of Texas, a week earlier. That is her fastest ever opener over the barriers for good measure.

Having got off to a solid 10.30 in Arlington the previous weekend, Tyrone Edgar combined with Wallace Spearmon and Darvis Patton, deployed in the opening two legs, over the unfamiliar top bend to help ‘Speed United’ win the Invitational 4x100m relay with ease in 38.64 although, surprisingly, the fastest run of the day arrived in the guise of Auburn in a swift 38.30 in the Clyde Littlefield race earlier in the program.

After hard times on the sidelines for a couple of years, the former European Cup winner will be content to be putting together solid back-on-back races and feel competitive again at this stage.

Former European U20 silver medallist Amy Harris was eighth in the long jump on a windy 6.40m (4.0m/sec), with a legal 6.23m too (2.0m/sec), but promising U23 jumper Lorraine Ugen apparently suffered a setback as she just touched at 4.43m in her opening effort and called it a day after passing the second.

Hopefully, there is nothing serious with her and she could build on a slightly windy 6.83m recently that has effectively drawn her into striking distance of the A qualifying standard in the long jump for London (6.75m).

Chelsea Hayes was the winner at 6.86m aided by a strong tailwind of 5.0m/sec and Tori Bowie followed with an also very windy 6.77m (4.6m/sec).

UK long jump champion Julian Reid is also a decent hand in the triple jump, a potential B plan for Olympic selection if the A doesn’t come off, and came out with a slightly windy but encouraging 16.76m (2.6m/sec), with a legal 16.24m (1.8m/sec) put down as well, for a considerable improvement on his indoor 16.35m this season.

Early in the four-day meeting, Joe Wade ran a UK-topping 8:58.29 for fourth immediately followed a slot behind by his twin brother Tom in 9:01.40 (SB) in the men’s 3000m steeplechase with Luis Orta a comfortable winner in 8:50.72 up front.

Results

http://www.texassports.com/livestats/tex-relays/

Matt Graham drew in between the Wade brothers to number two in the early UK lists as he continued his gradual return to form in a SB of 9:00.93 to win over the barriers at the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational in Cincinatti, Ohio, a couple of days later.

The U23 Scot caught the eye when he dropped down to a sound 8:51.48 as an U20 two seasons ago but languished on the verge of 9 minutes for the entire last summer, yet it looks a matter of time before he dips back inside that benchmark again. Incidentally, he has won both his outings in his specialty this term.

James Mee moved fourth in the British charts courtesy of a massive PB of 9:03.88 for fourth at the Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Tina Muir kept on improving by heaps through a second huge PB on the trot in 16:10.55 in third over the women’s 5000m.

Lee Carey returned a big PB of his own in 14:08.68, also third, in the men’s version and Hannah Brooks won over the same distance in a SB of 16:20.05 at the UNF Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida.

Britain…

The seventh stage was ‘all the money’ at the Northern Road Relays in Liverpool as in-form Jonny Mellor (Liverpool), fresh from a fabulous debut of 62:59 over the half marathon in New York, and Nick McCormick (Morpeth) produced the two fastest long-leg times in 21:43 and 21:47 respectively with James Wilkinson (Leeds) also involved in 22:04.

Niall Brooks (Sale) was the fastest over the short leg of the course in 11:07 to indicate that he is getting back on track after a shortened stuttering drive last summer.

Liverpool were runaway winners ahead of Salford and Morpeth.

Elle Baker (Stockport) and Charlene Thomas (Wakefield) handed in the two swiftest legs with a single second separating their runs in 12:25 and 12:26, second and sixth stage respectively, as Rotherham prevailed in women, followed by Wakefield and Salford.

Men: http://www.race-results.co.uk/results/2012/n1212.pdf

Women: http://www.race-results.co.uk/results/2012/n6w12.pdf

Annabel Gummow, the European U20 bronze medallist over 5000m, turned a cut or two above anyone else as she delivered the fastest leg by a long way in 15:50 at the Midland Road Relays in Birmingham. However, her team, Bristol & West AC, could not get anywhere near the top two outfits of Westbury and Birchfield Harriers for the top honours.

Bristol did win, though, the men’s race ahead of Tipton and Birchfield Harriers.

Men: http://www.race-results.co.uk/results/2012/m1212.htm

Women: http://www.race-results.co.uk/results/2012/mw612.htm

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