Category: Marathons & Road Racing


The crowds poured in by the thousands round the Quayside to attend the sign-off episode of a sensational summer and relish a last encore of some of their Olympic heroes at the Great City Games in Newcastle, serving as the fall equinox of home athletics as the outdoor track season takes to the streets thereon to hand over the baton to the road in the shape of the Great North Run the following day.

A street version of the once traditional GBR vs USA matches, the Americans may have settled the affair as early as midway through to finally prevail 6-3 in wins between them but the British fans were delighted to witness some surprisingly strong late performances from athletes such as Chris Tomlinson and Dwain Chambers that lend even more promise to the following season.

Dan Pfaff-bound Holly Bleasdale suffered a low flight of just 4.10m, admittedly having not done any training since London, as she slipped to a surprise defeat by Mary Saxy (4.25) in a short-run opening women’s pole vault, U20 hot prospect Katie Byres rounding out the field at 3.80, while Hannah England looked to have measured her efforts superbly only to be denied by a marauding late charge from burgeoning half-miler Brenda Martinez at the death in the mile to turn the tide decisively in favour of the US team from the early days.

World champion Jenny Simpson opted to embark on an unfamiliar hard run straight to the front to open up a healthy gap on the field that she held well into the second half of the race until an audacious move by Julia Bleasdale, always relishing to test her limits, saw her haul in the American off the Swing Bridge where England worked her way back on terms more steadily soon.

As the finish line loomed ahead turning into the home stretch, England was well poised to strike out past a tiring Simpson for home, maybe a click too early, and looked like having done enough to clinch top honours for Britain, Bleasdale falling behind and Anna Pierce with Shannon Rowbury out of contention; yet, out of nowhere screamed past lightning Martinez like a train down the way, in a late established trademark fashion, to steal a victory against the odds over the last 40m in 4:34.99 to 4:35.56.

The 25-year-old half-miler was the least fancied among the American quartet to figure at the top, venturing on the upper end of her range, but she is already a useful miler (4:06.96 PB over 1500m) and offered a full measure of her fiercesome kick to suggest a major new force in the making over both distances in view of next season.

Nonetheless, there were many positives for the Brit to draw out of the tussle before swinging out to the terminal stop of a season that never came her way, her luck not lasting even as far as the finish line of an early Pyrrhic victory in Hengelo, lining up at the renowned 5th Avenue Mile in New York.

Behind the two, Pierce battled into the top three in 4:36.44 ahead of Simpson, who had to eventually do with fourth in 4:37.17 for all her pains, whereas Bleasdale faded back into fifth in 4:38.89. U20 sensation Jessica Judd gained further valuable excerience in a fastest ever mile on any surface in 4:42.30 followed by Eilish McColgan in 4:42.84 in the rear two places.

Following next, the men’s equivalent was nothing short of a nailbiting thriller either as a rejuvenated James Brewer turned back the pages of his form book to reignite his U23 promise and give great Bernard Lagat, the red-hot favourite, a real scare and a race for his money.

The legendary former double world champion attempted to lay down his law from the outset by means of a brisk pace at the helm but, much to a growing astonishment around, could not shake off the stout challenge of the Brit who moved alongside into the final quarter of the race, growing in confidence with every stride.

So much so that Brewer appeared to turn the screw and Lagat digging deep to hang on into the final burn-up but the American made his expertise count as he ground out a vital metre entering the home track straight and used his body expertly to shut the ways past as his young rival rallied to threaten again late for a narrow victory in 4:01.62 against 4:01.81, a road best for the latter.

Mark Rowland-coached Jordan McNamara was a clear third some way behind in 4:02.86 and U23 Jonny Hay worked his way through in the late stages for fourth in 4:05.03 ahead of 800m man Mukhtar Mohammed.

The spectacle of Brewer back in full flow was a delight to watch and will afford a further boost alongside Ross Murray’s summer revelation to the British mile scene in quest of a return into the thick of affairs at global level as Andy Baddeley could be pondering a move up in distance, with the likes of James Shane hopefully returning fully fit next season.

By stark contrast, Olympic short relay champion Jeneba Tarmoh bossed the women’s 100m from her first step out of the blocks minutes earlier and never allowed a slightest shade of doubt cast on the outcome as she made a slick transition into a firm lead and drove powerfully down the track to win comfortably in a fast late-season 11.17 secs (0.6m/sec), placing a thorough gap on compatriot Miki Barber and Anyika Onuora who battled it out for the runner-up spot behind in 11.37 and 11.42 secs.

Chris Tomlinson lands at a superb third-round 8.18m to nail a top-notch long jump on the Quayside

Mo Farah comfortably dominates the men’s 2 miles

Full Results

http://www.greatcitygames.org/Results/2012_gncg.aspx

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As the curtains have come down on the most spectacular showpiece of sport on earth and the dust is yet to settle in the arena, just as the cheering of the crowds still resounds around the stands, at the Olympic stadium at Stratford in the wake of nine days of pulsating end-to-end action, the time has come to take a thorough look into the performance of the British team, both on an individual and a collective footing, and assess the gains and losses effected across the board.

Britain claimed four gold medals courtesy of Mo Farah, who accomplished a monumental double over 5000 and 10000m, Jessica Ennis in a UK record in the heptathlon and Greg Rutherford in the long jump to equal their best ever figure post WWII, established initially in Tokyo (1964) and emulated in Moscow (1980), as well as a silver by Christine Ohuruogu over 400m and a bronze from Robbie Grabarz in the high jump for a haul of six medals overall, highest since Sydney in 2000.

Mo Farah storms to a sensational Olympic title ahead of Dejen Gebremeskel (ETH) over 5000m to wrap up a sublime long distance double along with his 10000m gold a week earlier.

All the same, amidst the buzz and excitement of the heroics of Team GB towards an astounding third place in the Olympic medal table the effect of a relative shortfall in minor silverware or top eight places was somewhat tempered, yet there should not escape the fact that there were either alarming or mystifying gaps in the presence of the team that demand addressing.

The Britons registered a sole male finalist, Andie Osagie, in the distances from 100 through to 1500m just as the women came up with a single representative in Ohuruogu at the sharp end of the sprint and hurdle events; puzzling late formation decisions saw both long relays crash out of the top three places where the lack of medals in the women’s jumps felt slightly as an anticlimax seen against the Turkish delight of three gongs earned in Istanbul a few months earlier.

Nevertheless, hope and promise remain robust for the future as burgeoning prospects such as Lawrence Clarke, Laura Weightman, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Adam Gemili and Sophie Hitchon picked up high marks in their first exams on the grand stage while a sound core to the team lies already in place for an even more successful new Olympic cycle leading up to Rio.

So let’s get started with a detailed picture of the statistics of the team’s showing before we move on to an athlete-by-athlete analysis.

MEDALS (6)

Gold Medals (4): Mo Farah (5000 & 10000m), Jessica Ennis (Heptathlon), Greg Rutherford (LJ)

Silver Medals (1): Christine Ohuruogu (400m)

Bronze Medals (1): Robbie Grabarz (HJ)

TOP 8 PLACES (13)

4th places (3): Lawrence Clarke (110mh), Dai Greene (400mh), Men’s 4x400m (Conrad Williams, Jack Green, Dai Greene, Martyn Rooney)

5th places (3): Steve Lewis (PV), Yamile Aldama (TJ), Women’s 4x400m (Shana Cox, Lee McConnell, Christine Ohuruogu, Perri Shakes-Drayton)

6th places (2): Holly Bleasdale (PV), Chris Tomlinson (LJ)

7th places (2): Jo Pavey (5000 & 10000m)

8th places (3): Julia Bleasdale (5000 & 10000m), Andie Osagie (800m)

OTHER FINALISTS (6)

9th places (1): Shara Proctor (LJ)

10th places (1): Lisa Dobriskey (1500m)

11th places (1): Laura Weightman (1500m)

12th places (3): Lawrence Okoye (DT), Sophie Hitchon (HT), Alex Smith (HT)

___________________________________________________________________________

UK RECORDS (3)

Women

Heptathlon: Jessica Ennis 6955

100mh: Jessica Ennis 12.54

HT: Sophie Hitchon  71.98

UK U23 RECORDS (1)

Women

HT: Sophie Hitchon 71.98

UK U20 RECORDS (1)

Women

Heptathlon: Katarina Johnson-Thompson 6267

___________________________________________________________________________

World leading marks (1)

Women

Heptathlon: Jessica Ennis 6955

European leading marks (5 plus a WL)

Men

10000m: Mo Farah 27:30.42

4×400: Conrad Williams, Jack Green, Dai Greene, Martyn Rooney 2:59.53

Women

5000m: Julia Bleasdale 15:02.00

10000m: Jo Pavey 30:53.20

100mh: Jessica Ennis 12.54

UK leading marks (4 plus a WL and 5 ELs)

Men

100m: Dwain Chambers 10.02

800m: Andie Osagie 1:43.77

110mh: Lawrence Clarke 13.31

Women

400m: Christine Ohuruogu 49.70

___________________________________________________________________________

PERSONAL BESTS (11)

Men

800m Andie Osagie 1:43.77

110mh Lawrence Clarke 13.31

Women

200m Margaret Adeoye 22.94

1500m Laura Weightman 4:02.99

5000m Julia Bleasdale 15:02.00, Barbara Parker 15:12.81

10000m Jo Pavey 30:53.20, Julia Bleasdale 30:55.63

Heptathlon Jessica Ennis 6955, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 6267

HT Sophie Hitchon 71.98

Multi-events Individual Personal Bests (9)

Men

100m Daniel Awde 10.71

Women

200m Jessica Ennis 22.83, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 23.73

800m Katarina Johnson-Thompson 2:10.76

100mh Jessica Ennis 12.54, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 13.48 (equal)

HJ Katarina Johnson-Thompson 1.89

JT Jessica Ennis 47.49, Louise Hazell 47.38

OVERALL PERSONAL BESTS: 20

___________________________________________________________________________

SEASON BESTS (10)

Men

100m Dwain Chambers 10.02, James Dasaolu 10.13

10000m Mo Farah 27:30.42, Chris Thompson 29:06.14

Marathon Scott Overall 2h22:37

4x400m Conrad Williams, Jack Green, Dai Greene, Martyn Rooney 2:59.53

Women

400m Christine Ohuruogu 49.70

5000m Jo Pavey 15:02.84

Heptathlon Louise Hazell 5856

4x400m Shana Cox, Lee McConnell, Christine Ohuruogu, Perri Shakes-Drayton 3:24.76

Lawrence Clarke was a revelation of the British team as he snatched a highly unexpected fourth in the 110m hurdles having set a PB of 13.31 secs in the semis

Further statistics:

* Jessica Ennis became the third female multi-eventer from the British shores, after Mary Peters and Denise Lewis, to clinch the Olympic title and raise the heptathlon, incorporating its former version of the pentathlon, as the most successful event for the women’s team in the history of the Olympics. Her score of 6955pts was her second UK record, in the same season at that, to see her move 5th in the all-time rankings in the world.

Come to that, Ennis became the first Briton to lay down two individual UK records in an Olympic Games since Linford Christie in 1988 in Seoul, revising markers in the 100 and 200m.

* Mo Farah emerged as the first Brit to ever claim the Olympic summit in both the 5000 and the 10000m as well as fulfilling that particular distinguished distance double in history, the first European since great Finn Lasse Viren (1976) and sixth in history overall. Ian Stewart (bronze, 1972) and Mike McLeod (silver, 1984) were the last Brits to mount the podium over those distances until London.

* No British relay team have turned in a medal at a global outdoor championships since Berlin 2009.

* Andie Osagie set a PB of 1:43.77 in the men’s 800m final that shapes the fastest time by a Brit over the distance since Peter Elliott winning in 1:42.97 in Seville in distant 1990, slotting into fourth in the UK all-time lists. Furthermore, he came the first Olympic finalist from Britain in the event since Curtis Robb, who occupied sixth back in Barcelona 1992.

* Greg Rutherford ended a long wait of 48 years as he turned the first Brit to clinch the ultimate crown, or even a medal, in the long jump since Lynn ‘the leap’ Davies in Tokyo in 1964.

* Britain failed to put up a single male finalist in the 1500m for the first time since 1992.

* Katarina Johnson-Thompson put together her third UK U20 record this season but remained seventh all-time in the global U20 rankings while her PB of 1.89m in the high jump was the highest by a British U20 girl since Susan Moncrieff‘s equal UK U20 record of 1.91m in 1997.

* Sophie Hitchon initiated Britain’s account in Olympic finals in the women’s hammer, reaching her fourth UK record this season and sixth overall in the progress, while Alex Smith brought an end to a 28-year drought without a Briton in the men’s equivalent. The last to do so were Robert Weir, Martin Girvan and Matt Mileham in Los Angeles in 1984.

* No British sprinter has made the 100m final since Sydney 2000 where Dwain Chambers and Darren Campbell placed fourth and sixth respectively. For that matter, Campbell is the last Brit to have won an individual sprint medal as he went on to grab silver over 200m in the very same Olympics.

* Christine Ohuruogu made the first British girl ever to lay her hands on a second individual Olympic medal, in back-to-back Olympics at that, as well as the only one that has dipped inside 50 secs three times over 400m.

* Dai Greene is the first Briton to make the Olympic 400m hurdles final since Kriss Akabussi‘s bronze medal flight in Barcelona 1992 while Lawrence Clarke brought an end to a barren spell since Colin Jackson‘s fifth in Sydney 2000.

* Holly Bleasdale is the first ever female vaulter from the UK to have made the top eight or even make a final, placing sixth, while Steve Lewis attained the highest ever slot in the men’s equivalent with a fine fifth in London.

* Jo Pavey and Julia Bleasdale moved second and third in the 10000m in the British all-time charts through their PBs of 30:53.20 and 30:55.63 respectively, placing seventh and eighth, to double the number of Brits under 31 minutes as they joined legends Paula Radcliffe and Liz McColgan in that territory.

Come to that, they occupied the very same places in the 5000m later into the championships, a quite unusual occurence, where Bleasdale had also improved her PB into 15:02.00 to go eighth in the respective all-time lists.

Jade Nicholls made a substantial step closer to earning Olympic selection as she nailed a B qualifier of 60.51m at a warm up throws meet at La Jolla, part of the OTC Pre Olympic series, which proved the foot of her own trail to her London dream.

Under the selection policy, a couple of current B standards are required to qualify in Trial events, provided there is no A holder therein, and getting the first out of the way so early into the season is a considerable burden off her shoulders and as significant a boost.

The 25-year-old got out to a slow start, however, and had to wait until the third round to find her rhythm by way of an outdoor SB of 58.92m, just 5cm shy of a potential indoor world best of 58.97m at Vaxjo (SWE), before she moved up a further chunk into qualifying territory and a useful international win at her fourth attempt.

A 58.21m fifth round served to bolster up her series as she got the better of American record holder and three-time Olympian Suzie Powell, second at a fourth-effort 59.85 on the day, into the bargain.

The event was held on the eve of the discus competition at the MtSAC Relays in Walnut, and the Brit throwers on the UKA camp in California showed up in full to go through their paces before the main assignment of the week.

In the men’s version, European U23 champion Lawrence Okoye and Daegu finalist Brett Morse placed sixth and seventh at 62.27 and 61.06m respectively for further early solid displays in a quality competition that saw three men over 66m.

Okoye recorded two more throws over the 60m line with a follow-up of 61.77m in the fifth round and an opening 60.23m while Morse started off out to 60.39m. Interestingly, that result saw the former going already 2-0 up in between them contests in the incorporated match of the battle for the British summit.

Croatian Martin Maric opened up with a world-leading 66.53m and held on to earn his spurs under the attack of Rutger Smith, who reached a second-farthest-in-the-globe 66.33 (SB) a round later, with fellow Dutchman Erik Cadee closing out the top three at a SB of 66.10m.

In the development edition, U23 Zane Duquemin continued his promising early form to mark a second-farthest ever 59.71m for fifth but Chris Scott struggled with a finger problem to end up last at 56.30m, Brasilian Ronald Juliao prevailing with a SB of 62.97m.

Away from the discus throwing sector, a revamped Brad Walker scaled an opener of 5.72m in the pole vault to bounce vigorously onto the outdoor stage following his silver medal at the World Indoors in Istanbul last month.

New York turns into a happy ground for Chris Thompson as he produced a strong display over the half marathon in the streets of the famous American city in a big PB of 61:23 to follow up on his victory at the Dash To The Finish 5k in November, deputising well for missing last year’s winner and friend Mo Farah.

Having run a low 62-minuter in South London last autumn, the European silver medallist showed confident and intent from early on to mix it with the abundance of talent on show around him and take his game a level higher over a distance on the upper boundary of his range, consolidating a strong endurance platform for his campaign over 10000m in summer.

‘Thommo’ got off to a 14:05 split in the opening 5k and went past the 10km mark in 29:05 in a six-strong chasing pack some way off the searing pace of Deriba Merga (ETH) and Peter Kirui (KEN) up front to maintain his form nicely through the second half into a fabulous seventh place.

A  string of excellent scalps picked like Brasilian Marilson dos Santos, American Meb Keflezighi, Dathan Ritzenhein and Australian Ben StLawrence in a event lying more in their court will offer a further mental boost as a time around 27:10 looks to beckon over ever more in his specialty on the horizon.

Thompson’s glow rubbed off on a revamped Scott Overall who kept riding on the wave of his marathon breakthrough to finish strongly just a place and a mere two seconds behind in 61:25, shattering his previous marker of 63:21 from Indianapolis last May.

Already selected for London, the 29-year-old marathoner looks to have finally found his niche in the distance world and poised to move up another level on the bounce on the evidence of his performance, having ‘warmed up’ with a 69:47 half in Silverstone a week before on Sunday.

Incidentally, those times saw Thompson move up into eighth and Overall ninth to bring about a considerable revision to the top ten of the British all-time rankings in the distance.

Also breaking new ground was Liverpoolian Jonny Mellor as he ventured deep into uncharted territories to clock a superb debut of 62:59 in 19th place that could set him up nicely for a crack at the Olympic A standard of 27:45 over 10000m, where Thompson and Farah have effectively secured two of the three available Olympic spots, while James Walsh followed on some way off in 32nd in 65:48, his fastest time since 2005.

At the top of the race, Kirui brilliantly weathered the storm of Merga, who attempted to settle affairs from early on, and when he breezed past around 600m out the Ethiopian could offer no answer to slip through the gears to a commanding victory in a PB of 59:39, carving out a striking nine-second gap on his rival (59:48).

Feyisa Lilesa (ETH) was outside the hour into a distant third in 60:45 followed on at a similar interval by Kenyans Wesley Korir and Sam Chelanga who came home tied in a joint PB of 61:19 for fourth and fifth respectively.

Womenwise, Scot Freya Murray set a PB by 10 seconds into 72:32 for 17th and marathon Olympic hopeful Claire Hallissey might have been looking for a little more than her eventual 72:58 a couple of places behind.

The main race was reeled out on an identical pattern to the men’s as eventual victor Firehiwot Dado (ETH) swept beyond long-time leader Kim Smith (NZL), a fervent front-runner, in the late stages to clinch a thorough win in a PB of her own of 68:35 against the latter’s 68:43 into the wind, establishing a successful line on the back of her marathon triumph in the same surroundings last autumn.

Home favourite Kara Goucher was third in 69:12 well ahead of Dutch Hilda Kibet (69:42) and Janet Cherobon Bawcom (USA) drifted home in fifth in 69:55, first time under 70 minutes in her career.

Results

http://web2.nyrrc.org/cgi-bin/htmlos.cgi/25167.1.699246165318191398

Top American marathon runner Ryan Hall, qualified for the US Olympic team to London, offers his own insights into picking the right workouts every time as well as shaking things up in a training regime if need be to avoid accommodation and ensuing failure to progress.

A nice slideshow from the US marathon Trials in Houston

Shalane Flanagan demonstrated her amazing racing range to awesome effect as she powered away in the late stages to clinch victory in a huge PB and CBP of 2h25:38 at the US Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, Texas, ensuring of a place on the American team to London in summer.

The Beijing 10000m bronze medallist was content to stay with the leading pack for the best part of the way, cruising in total control throughout, and made her move only past the 21st mile to narrow the affair between herself and Desiree Davila before moving up a further gear towards victory over the final couple of miles.

Davila opted to hold on for runner-up rather than give chase, cramping up slightly, to come off well and safe in 2h25:55 in the end as the threatening shadow of surging back Kara Goucher followed slightly behind to wrap up the third Olympic spot in 2h26:06.

Amy Hastings will also travel to London but only as a reserve as she came fourth in 2h27:17 in a fast championships race of very good depth that saw American record holder and Athens bronze medallist Deena Kastor slip well behind the pace to end up sixth in 2h30:40 and outside the qualifying places.

Incidentally, that was just the second outing over the distance for winner Flanagan whose track speed could tell if it comes to a finish up the Mall so Paula Radcliffe will need to pay heed in that direction.

In the men’s race, Meb Keflezighi weathered the storm of defending champion Ryan Hall, who charged through the first half in a searing 63:25, before moving past his tiring rival late to claim top honours in 2h09:08 to 2h09:30, both comfortably checking in on the plane to the British capital.

Abdi Abdirahman held on to a rather surprise third in 2h09:47 as his enterprise to follow Hall’s sizzling pace in close quarters paid dividents to leave a disappointed Dathan Ritzenhein effectively empty-handed in fourth in 2h09:55, turning his sights on securing a spot in the 10000m later  in the season now.

Race Statistics

http://runningusa.org/node/80906#80909

As widely expected, the weekend was short on action due to the New Year on Sunday saving a few races on the road or the country.

Justina Heslop was involved in the most notable fixture as she placed a solid seventh in 16:35.1 in the BO Classic 5km in Bolzano (Italy), also known for a quality multi-event held during the summer, despite an uneven performance that saw her slip well behind into 10th at the end of the second lap but recover considerably to draw in three spots in the late phases.

The race was won by the hottest name in women’s distances nowadays in double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) who had nevertheless to dig deep to hold off a very strong Afera Godfay (ETH) by a mere 0.4 secs, clocking 16:03.0 and 16:03.4 respectively.

The men’s version turned into a close two-horse Kenyan contest where Edwin Soi edged out Wilson Kiprop by half a second to victory in the end in 28:16.6 to 28:17.1 whereas world cross-country champion Image Merga (ETH) was surprisingly blown away into a distant third in 28:57.9.

Multi European champion on the country Sergiy Lebid trailed home even further behind in seventh in 29:20.2.

Over in Madrid, Spain, marathon Olympic hopeful Susan Partridge obtained a sound confidence boost as she came an excellent third at the San Silvestre Vallecana 10km in what would have been a big personal best of 32:44 but for the over the allowable average downhill slope course, gaining the scalp of returning to action global ‘chase champion Marta Dominguez (ESP, 32:49) in the progress.

The Brit felt inspired to even dare track, at a discreet distance, the fearsome duo of double Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba and top miler Gelete Burka up to the middle stages before the Ethiopian girls took off into the second half to vanish into the distance.

Burka showed as though she was heading for a sensational victory as she ground out a seemingly crucial edge coming into the home straight but Dibaba mustered a last reserve of strength and response to come back and snatch it at the death, both sharing the same time of 31:30 at the end.

The men’s race turned as much of a thriller as last-minute entry Hagos  Gebrehiwot (ETH), just 17, pipped favourite Teklemariam Medhin (ERI) right on the line in an identical time of 27:57 having matched each other stride by stride in the dying stages, over a poorly-designed last lap round a footbal pitch nevertheless.

European cross-country silver medallist Ayad Lamdassem (ESP) came a convincing third some way back in 28:10 followed by veteran marathoner Chema Martinez in 28:34 and former European 5000m champion Jesus Espana in 28:41 in a Spanish array.

Former Olympic 1500m bronze medallist Rui Silva (POR) was seventh well behind in 29:12 as he is still struggling to come to terms with longer distances.

Back in Britain, Andy Baddeley opened the new year in a winning tone as he ran a decent solo 14:26 way out in front at the Bushy Park 5km parkrun while Scot Freya Murray, a recent team European cross-country medallist, came top female and second overall in 16:32 at the Glasgow Pollok Park equivalent.

It is going to be intriguing to see whether ‘Badders’ will stick to the 1500m or has made up his mind on a move up to the 5000m and it won’t be long before the answer arrives.

In the most competitive domestic event at the Nos Galan 5km, Boston-based miler Rich Peters, who left a lot of promise with a 3:58.26 mile indoors last term, saw off Welshman Stephen Davies, a 3:38 performer over 1500m in 2007, by a couple of seconds in a PB of 14:40 to the latter’s 14:42, with also US-based Chris Gowell a close third in 14:44 just ahead of Adam Bitchell (14:45).

James Thie, 5th over 1500m at the World Indoors in 2004, was back in eighth position in 14:56 but somewhere between his racing and coaching duties these days.

Further, ‘Lobo’ Susan Waldron was top woman and fifth overall in 35:09 over 10km at the Hereford New Year event but a most extraordinary turn-up a week ago yesterday was Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu‘s venture over what should have been a first ever 5km outing in 20:43 at the Enfield & Haringey Boxing Day event at the Lee Valley, a rough average of 4:08 per km – not bad for her!

Indoors, the most notable showing was that of Ron Roddan-coached Nigel Thomas who started off his season to a brace of PBs of 6.82 and 6.81 secs over 60m at the New Year Spints meet at the Lee Valley, improving from 6.85 secs posted at the BUCS Championships last February. That augurs very well for a time inside 6.7 secs as the season progresses.

Outdoors, yes, in the hammer ring, U20 Callum Brown flung the 6kg junior implement to a second best ever 66.39m at the Winter Wonderwhirl in Ipswich, ten days after setting a massive PB of 68.05m in Norwich. The 17-year-old thrower of City of Norwich looks bound to reach well over 70m in summer and a new name to look out for.

Amir Williamson was top senior at 61.14m at the same meet.

Needless to say, there was a very thin competitive schedule up around Britain over Christmas and Boxing Day although most athletes did honour the occasion by putting in morning sessions before the traditional festive table.

Christmas Eve

Former ‘chaser Jon Pepper, who is moving up to longer distances now, was an easy winner of the Brighton & Hove Parkrun 5km in 14:39, placing a good distance of 24 secs on U23 second-placed Chris Dodd, while Beijing marathon Olympian Liz Yelling took the respective event at Poole in 17 mins dead, coming second overall.

Furthermore, Scot Freya Murray, a team gold medallist at the European XC Championships in Velenje a fortnight ago on Christmas, won the Edinburgh Parkrun over the same distance in 16:44.

Mellor defeats Brownlee at Clitheroe

Liverpoolian Jon Mellor, breaking through to a big PB of 13:36.40 over 5000m on the track last summer, applied well to convincingly hold off the menacing thiathlon machine of Alistair Brownlee by a gap of five seconds at the Ribble Valley 10km on the road on Tuesday, topping off his most successful year to winning ways in 29:10 to the latter’s 29:15.

However, the twice Triathlon world champion had every reason to leave the course happy as he shattered his own PB by a full 20 secs and gained a further big mental boost gearing up to claim the Olympic title in London, along with his also exceptional brother Jonathan.

In third, slightly behind, was a surging back miler Ricky Stevenson who also bettered his PB by a dozen seconds into 29:17 while U23 Scot Derek Hawkins, a team silver medallist at the European XC Championships recently, came home some way behind in sixth in 29:48, a mere second off his best.

Milers Steve Mitchell and Chris Warburton performed decent overdistance workouts in big PBs of 30:09 and 30:37 for 10th and 18th respectively where Katrina Wooton finished top woman in the race in 33:58.

Boxing Day

In the meantime, marathon Olympic hopeful Louise Damen came top woman in a SB of 33:48 over 10km on the road at Poole in her first outing since dropping out early, just after 10km, of the Yokohama marathon in Japan late last month.

By all appearances, however, she is not going to have a crack at a winter marathon and will instead head straight to a make or break run-off against the other British girls, save already selected Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi, for the remaining third Olympic spot in the London marathon in April.

(Full results in the respective section)

 

Paula Radcliffe has struck the right note to her early call-up to the British Olympic team for London as she romped to a walkover of a 10km in the Cursa de Natale round the streets of Monaco in a huge SB of 32:06.

The outing was actually a very late call on her return from a lengthy altitude training spell at Iten in Kenya along with the likes of Helen Clitheroe and the marathon world record holder was eager to gauge the benefits of her stint with immediate effect on the hilly course, which lends even more credit to her time.

After the race, she sounded quite pleased with her run, saying “The weather there (Kenya) has been unseasonably wet which turned most of roads and trails into mud but training has gone really well. Although I wasn’t feeling very sharp the three climbs on the Monaco course felt really easy because of Kenya.”

By the way, only Iten-roumate and friend Clitheroe has run faster among Britons over the distance on the road this year when she set 31:45 in winning the Great BUPA Manchester Run in mid May.

Elsewhere around Britain…

European silver medallist Mike Rimmer made his second low-key appearance over any distance or surface since early eliminated in the heats of the 800m in Daegu, which summed up a very frustrating track season, to tackle a well-beyond-his-range 10-miler in Stockport, coming home seventh in a debut 55:47.

The 25-year-old said last month that he might require surgery to sort out a mysterious injury that ruined his summer campaign but the very welcome sight of him racing againg could make for an encouraging sign that he is drawing back on track.

Forme miler Matt Barnes was first across the line in also a debut time of 50:55 while Anthony Ford was third in 51:47.

Results

http://www.thepowerof10.info/results/results.aspx?meetingid=57710&event=10M&venue=Stockport&date=11-Dec-11

At the Loughborough Students AC Open, U23 decathlete David Guest initiated his indoor competitive trail by way of a three-discipline workout of promising early marks. He completed a brace of 60m hurdles in 8.38 and 8.32 secs, just four hundredths off his best ever, long jumped to 7.18m – his longest in any environment this year – and put the shot at 11.56m.

The Welshman, coached by his father Mike, totalled a classy 7727pts as an U20 with the senior implements last year, top marker in the world, but he was seriously hampered by injuries last summer to miss both the European U23 Championships and, potentially, even the World Championships in Daegu.

Over at the SEAA Inter-Counties on the country at Croydon, teenage sensation Jessica Judd won comfortably from Grace Baker in the U17 women’s race by a sound 27 secs in 18:20 to 18:47 respectively.

Overseas…

Mick Woods’s new charge Jess Coulson, who set a UK U23 best over 10 miles in early autumn, rebounded well from a lacklustre showing at the European XC Trials in Liverpool to get third in 16:06 over 5km in Sion, Switzerland, on Saturday.

The duo of Caroline Chepkwony and Jane Muia made a Kenyan one-two at  the top of the race in 15:51 and 15:57 respectively.

Results

http://services.datasport.com/2011/lauf/sion/RANG092.HTM

There have hardly been any surprises in the first wave of selections for the marathon announced by the British Olympic Assossiation earlier today as Paula Radcliffe, Mara Yamauchi and Scott Overall booked their places on the starting line of London in summer.

Scott Overall

World record holder Radcliffe, actually, was always a certainty fully acknowledged and respected within all quarters since her staggering comeback to form in clocking 2h23:46 for third in the streets of Berlin last September and even Charles van Commennee moved to confirm her place well in advance, apparently attempting to brush aside any lingering worries or anxiety playing on her mind at the time.

At her best, she can be a genuine gold medal contender and UK Athletics’s head coach wants to make sure she enjoys the best possible build-up to London, representing her last chance to gain hold of the only accolade missing from her pedigree.

From there on, there were two main options left open and the Dutchman eventually leant towards the safer trail of naming a second runner early so that he has two individuals fully focussed on their preparations and unconcerned about contesting another race over the distance up to the Olympics, thus coming up with Yamauchi.

The Japanese-based athlete edged ahead of the pack in contention for selection behind Radcliffe late courtesy of her 2h27:54 for third in Yokohama and her very good championship record, as well as her superior PB of 2h23:12, counted a good deal in her favour.

The third place goes now down to a virtual run-off in the London marathon in April where Jo Pavey stands out as favourite to round out the Olympic trio while Claire Hallissey and Louise Damen look like her most dangerous rivals and may have a say in this.

On the men’s side, things were far simpler and Scott Overall had very much nailed his berth as early as he crossed the line in an astounding debut 2h10:55 for firth in Berlin in September, off a very unconvincing season at that. But that is where the very beauty of athletics really lies as the seemingly impossible can always be possible!

What is going to be intriguing, though, is whether he decides to head straight for the Olympics or take in another outing over the distance to gain more experience on the way.

Selectors could have gone for Dave Webb, who holds an equivalent A Olympic standard as he finished in the top 20 in Daegu, but having not run inside 2h15 so far may have counted against his early selection. However, he has got a good case in his hands and could tackle a late winter marathon to enhance his own prospects, placing pressure on the rest who will most likely opt for a make-or-break venture in London in April.

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Reaction

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Damen relieved to still have chance of gaining an Olympic berth

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/athletics/16050941.stm

Yamauchi feels privileged to have been selected

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/athletics/16070783.stm