Tag Archive: Gemma Steel

There have been mixed feelings on the road for the British girls as Gemma Steel and Charlotte Purdue battled it out for the top honours in the streets of Dublin to underline their promise whereas Paula Radcliffe suffered a serious blow to her hopes of eventually claiming that elusive Olympic medal in London as she faltered well off her target in Vienna.

On the track, Martyn Rooney opened his account to winning ways in style in Los Angeles and Abi Oyepitan evoked robust glimpses of the form that paved the way to the 200m final in Athens, with young Sophie Papps illustrating a glittering future in the women’s sprints at the Lee Valley.

OMV Half Marathon, Vienna

The much hyped “Emperor vs the Queen” virtual handicap race against great Haile Gebrselassie never really waltzed round the streets of the city of Johan Strauss as Radcliffe faded away over the back end of the half marathon course despite an encouraging start.

On a specially arranged format, the Briton was afforded a headstart of 7:52 on the differential between the lifetime bests of the two legends of distance running and showed purpose in the early stages to move past the opening 5k on schedule in 16:13.

But it turned all uphill from there on as the effects of a recent bout of bronchitis and pleurisy caught up with her and her strength started to waver in a test of mentality rather than an intended gauge of form and sharpener that reared up.

In due consideration, that was a race the world marathon record holder should have never run but she may have fallen for that false feeling of full recovery so many times when strength hasn’t actually settled back in yet, meddled with the anxiety of slipping behind her Olympic agenda.

By stark contrast, the ’emperor’ showed rejuvenated again, as if holding a charm of making, so much so that he soon released his rabbits of their duties to follow his own preferred tempo and breezed past Radcliffe slightly after the 15km mark, extending a shout of encouragement to his credit, on the way to wrapping up both contests in a time of 60.52.

Topping the women in a final time of 72:03, the slowest she has ever returned over the distance, will hardly offer any consolation for the Brit who, as Steve Cram wisely points out, will have to pick her way and races up to London very carefully henceforth, without any margin for mistakes.

SPAR Great Ireland Run, Dublin

The spell of the Olympics in London looks to work wonders on almost every department of home athletics and the spectacle of season revelation Gemma Steel and returning-to-action Charlotte Purdue pulling away from the field into a commanding British one-two in the women’s 10km race stirred life into hope of a revival over a distance that has been deep in the shades in recent years on the track.

Steel worked up a decisive four second gap on her domestic rival over the final kilometre of the course to collect the spoils in a huge best of  32:06, moving ninth in the UK all-time lists, and built on a sound run on all surfaces since autumn but Purdue won’t feel hard done by either with runner-up in a big new lifetime mark of 32:10 to slot into eleventh fastest ever herself.

Even more so when the young AFD runner came into the race still feeling a swift 15:29 long leg at the National Women’s 6-stager at Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, the previous day in her legs to show that form is falling in nicely down the way. Both times, without a doubt, indicate that the two Brits could pull the A standard of 31:45.00 on the track in the following several weeks and a place on the British team to London, an exciting prospect.

On the other hand, Helen Clitheroe endured a bad day at the office on her comeback from a training spell in Portugal as she looked rather uncomfortable midway through and trailed a long way behind the main action in fourth in 33:02 (SB), with Frenchwoman Christelle Daunay splitting the Brits in third in 32:27.

The men’s race could not bear the term contest by any means as great Kenenisa Bekele stormed to the front with the gun to force a searing pace, confident and flowing round the route, that saw him walk away with victory in a swift 27:49, a huge course record, as none survived on his tail even by the halfway mark.

A gap of almost a minute up on his nearest rival, as well as a few fleeting smiles looking round on the way, told the tale of a man back in serious business and feeling pleased with his form and fitness even though there was hardly a field to really test him over the distance. But time and races will tell whether he is back to his best once he swings onto the track next month with his showdown against Mo Farah over 5000m in Eugene looming large on the horizon.

Spaniard Ayam Lamdassam hung on to runner-up in 28:48 a mere second ahead of Italian Daniele Meucci, fourth and third behind Farah over 10000m in Barcelona, as they trailed a long way behind while Nick McCormick enjoyed another encouraging run to end up fifth in 29:04 and will take plenty of heart from a scalp like former European 5000m champion Jesus Espana.


Anticipation and tension is building up sharply as the indoor season picks up to the crunch for the majority of hopefuls to pull on a British vest at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March, with a crucial last nine days up to the selection deadline marked with the UK Trials in Sheffield across the weekend.

Each athlete that tops an event over the next couple of days gains automatic selection provided they have achieved the qualifying standard set by UK Athletics as far as the cut-off, with the rest of the make-up of the team lying with the selectors.

There won’t be any such concerns on the mind of Jessica Ennis, though, as she has taken up the invitation extended by IAAF on the merit of her world ranking, the very holder of the global title in the pentathlon.

Britain’s golden girl is expected to dominate the limelight in an arena that feels like a second home to her as she is down for the high jump, the shot, the 60m hurdles and the long jump to effectively simulate a pentathlon but spread over two days.

So let’s have a look at how events look likely to shape up over the next two days in Sheffield, starting with the ladies.

60m (7.30/11.25 100m)

The women’s dash could have hardly turn any tighter and has got all the makings of a gripping thriller, likely to come down to a blanket finish between even up to five contenders. Apart from sheer speed, strength and composure may come in handy across three gruelling rounds back-to-back on Sunday.

Asha Philip has staged an astonishing comeback to form out of years in the shadows to storm to a UK-leading 7.24 secs at the London Games three weeks ago, looking fluent and powerful again, so is holding a slight edge going into the showdown.

As importantly, she maintained her nerve to cope brilliantly with the pressure of racing U20 sprint sensation Jodie Williams alongside, beating her twice on the same day – not many can boast that around!

Incidentally, she is rumoured to have left Mike McFarlane‘s group since summer although that will hardly have any bearing on the affair.

A silver medallist in Valencia four years ago, Jeanette Kwakye is back to her very best and literally demolished the field in a British runner-up mark of 7.26 secs at the AVIVA International but on the slower track of Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, therefore she should be regarded on an equal footing in the battle for top honours.

Laura Turner set 7.29 secs, her fastest ever leading up to a UK Trials, behind Ivet Lalova (BUL) in France last weekend so seems to be hitting form at the right time, having also tweaked her dynamics, while seasoned campaigner Abi Oyepitan has also returned on top of her game in 7.31 secs showing plenty of consistency into the bargain.

Williams, for her part, has raced sparingly and is lying slightly down on last year at this stage although that could turn round radically as soon as she settles in her blocks for her first round heat. She is a renowned fierce competitor and relishes rising to the occasion so none to take lightly.

Anyika Onuora showed race-rusty in her only showing so far, setting only 7.57 secs, and has got lots of ground to make where the distance may come a little too short for the strength of Margaret Adeoye, more suited to the 200m. Improving Annabelle Lewis and talented U20 Sophie Papps could surprise a few.

200m (non-major championship event)

Adeoye, a shock winner in Glasgow, is playing on her own ground here and stands head and shoulders above anyone else in the field so probably setting her eyes mainly on the clock and a new PB. Louise Bloor is a shade away from the sub 24 secs region and U23 now Jenny Batten could spring a surprise second.

400m (53.25i/51.25)

Nicola Sanders steps on an indoor track on racing terms for the first time since her sensational triumph at the European Indoor Champs in Birmingham 2007 in a UK record of 50.02 secs, fifth fastest all-time, and she will be raring to mark a new chapter to her career and haul back into top form.

She is held to have enjoyed a smooth winter build-up, spending a lengthy spell down in South Africa, which forms a solid platform to her campaign for starters. After all, talent has never been an issue with her, it is all about keeping in one piece.

Perri Shakes-Drayton has pulled out to take some gloss off what looked like a potential highlight of the Trials but Sanders still faces off with a worthy rival in Shana Cox, who has the potential to go places in the event.

However, she looked in deep waters round the tight bends of the Kelvin Hall recently, as though she hadn’t been on an indoor track for ages, so will have to pare down that margin on the curb to give herself a fair chance. Her SB of 53.08 secs in the heats of the Birmingham Games was a good sign in that respect.

Relay places will be up for grabs as well and Nadine Okyere comes in first in the shake-up on a recent indoor best of 53.43 secs behind Vania Stambolova (BUL) in Vienna, plus PBs in the sprints, while a burgeoning Emily Diamond could turn a revelation having smashed her PB into 54.19 secs last weekend.

From there on, Laura Langowski, Emma Pullen, Kirsten McAslan and Shelayna Oskan-Clarke could all dip inside 54 secs, Kim Wall an unknown quantity.

800m (2:03.50i/1:59.50)

Marilyn ‘Maz’ Okoro is the overwhelming favourite to dominate the event and clinch her berth on the British team to Turkey as she has got far too much for anyone else in the field to handle. Rowena Cole, the European U20 silver medallist, Charlotte Best, Tara Bird and Alison Leonard ought to fight it out for the minor top three places.

1500m (4:14.00i or 4:31.00i mile/4:03.50 or 4:22.00 mile)

Not a single name among Britain’s top 10 milers is about to tackle the distance and thus Scot Claire Gibson, along with Laura Kirk, rise as the most likely candidates to lift the title. Qualifying times chances don’t look good in this quarter though.

3000m (8:51.00i/8:38.00 or 15:02.00 5000m)

Having already shown enough to effectively ensure of selection, European Indoor champion Helen Clitheroe is skipping the affair leaving the field open to Hannah England and her lethal finishing kick to prevail.

It’s hard to see how the Daegu 1500m runner-up could possibly lose this race whether it be a slow tactical affair or paced hard from the front as she possesses the required equipment to cope with everything thrown at in the context of it.

Gemma Steel, on the back of a fabulous season on the country, might have an outside chance to shake her as long as she commits herself to a fast pace from the off and can take the race inside 9 minutes, while pacy Stacey Smith ought to come among the medals from the rest.

Interesting figures on show are Emily Pidgeon, Elle Baker, Abbey McGhee, Beth Potter and Katrina Wooton.

60m hurdles (8.10 or 12.95 100mh)

UK record holder Tiffany Porter is missing since racing at the centennial Milrose Games in New York so Jessica Ennis takes pole position to land yet another British title over the hurdles, with an eye on her PB of 7.95 secs. Her first sample of a 8.05 secs on the very same track at the opening leg of the McCain Indoor Challenge firmly points to that way.

Gemma Bennett has solid hopes of edging under the qualifying mark on a SB of 8.16 secs set in Glasgow whereas Beijing finalist Sarah Claxton has failed to build on an encouraging start as yet, with a SB of 8.25 secs.

Consequently, the likes of Louise Wood and U23 Ashley Helshby might fancy their chances of sneaking into the medals on the grounds of PBs of 8.31 and 8.34 secs respectively.

Commonwealth heptathlon champion Louise Hazell will be out in this one as well looking to challenge her own PB of 8.27 secs, slightly over a tenth down this season on 8.38 so far, as is Meghan Beesley over a speed workout on the back of a n indoor best of 53.74 secs over 400m in Birmingham midweek.

High Jump (1.92)

Young Isobel Pooley, fresh from a big PB of 1.88m last weekend in the same arena, is brimming with confidence and could push Ennis towards her PB and equal  UK record of 1.95m, as could herself be spurred on by her great opponent to reach the qualifying standard of 1.92m and book her ticket for Istanbul.  But, at length, there appears that it could be some light at the end of the tunnel in this event on the domestic front.

Interesting to see what Steph Pywell has to offer though she looks some way off her best at the moment.

Pole Vault (4.52)

This is no contest by any stretch of the imagination but more of a Holly Bleasdale vs the bar affair that will turn on the freshness of the new British sensation in athletics following her epic battle with Yelena Isinbayeva in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Wednesday. A new UK record is always a possibility whenever she turns up in a competition.

Britain’s No2 Kate Dennison will be missing to leave the gap on the opposition even larger but there is a potential separate duel between swiftly rising U20 record holder Katie Byres and Welsh top all-time marker Sally Peake shaping up that could spur either on to new standards.

Also U20 Lucy Bryan is an interesting character for the future in the field and Sally Scott could improve considerably.

Long Jump (6.65)

Shara Proctor has shown very consistent with two indoor bests of 6.59 and 6.60m in as many outings this season so ought to come on top with relative ease, with pressure off her shoulders since she holds a qualifying 6.81m from last summer. Hopefully, she is going to keep up the trend and improve even further towards the 6.70s to boost her chances of a good result in Turkey.

Tony Minichiello says that Jessica Ennis is gearing up to a leap in the discipline and that would be a good occasion to bring it about and shake the confidence of her major rival for gold, Tatyana Chernova.

Abigail Irozuru looks like a safe bet to make up the top three and is on a PB-ing streak lately.

Triple Jump (14.10)

Yamile Aldama could be on the verge of turning her 40 but has still plenty of spring left in her legs to deliver the goods on the big stage, having started the season on a winning note at 14.03m in Glasgow. Two weeks on, she should move up a gear and well capable of landing towards the 14.30-14.40s and announce herself as a potential medallist in Istanbul next month.

Nadia Williams will be out to add to her recent 13.52m in Vienna but if one is looking for a breakthrough then world U20 silver medallist Laura Samuel fits the description, always relishing a championships environment.

Shot Put (17.50)

The spotlight will be on Jessica Ennis, again, eyeing to reach way beyond the 14m mark after a solid opener of 13.95m on this ground about three weeks ago. But spare a few glances on Eden Francis, the European U23 discus champion in 2009, who has made plenty of headway and is lying on the edge of 17m, setting a PB of 16.92m last week – the farthest by a Brit since 2006.

Louise Hazell goes in this one too and U20 Sophie McKinna is a good prospect for the future to follow.

Men’s Invitational 3000m

The ‘Mad Season’, as Gary Neville dubbed the current run in the English Premiership, rubbed off on the top drawer of the day at Hollyrood Park as the race unfolded totally against the form books or the complexion of the field, with the eagerly anticipated clash between three reigning Olympic and a former world champions never taking shape.

Great Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) turned up a mere ghost of himself as he floundered on the hilly muddy course and sunk deep into the field, a stark contrast to his pre-race statements, to raise far more questions over his fitness than he would have hoped to answer while Brimin Kipruto Kiprop (KEN) also languished thereabouts for an entirely anonymous outing, knocking plenty of the gloss off the affair.

On the far end up front, rising distance prospect Jonny Hay, on the back of a disappointing 8th in the U20s in Velenje at that, came to perform beyond his wildest dreams as he turned on a finishing kick that even his illustrious rivals would have envied for an astonishing runner-up, on a rare occasion to dare outshine his female groupmates in Mick Woods’s squad.

Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) showed some early purpose to assert himself but was never really convincing at the top and it was Ross Millington, the European U23 5000m silver medallist, to scent the opening and take his chance to burst to the front and quickly carve out a solid gap up front, driving hard round the second kilometre.

Reading the situation at a glance, Asbel Kiprop (KEN), the reigning Olympic and world 1500m champion, swiftly emerged in the hole between the Briton and the stretched out chasing pack to gain a hold on the race, his rangy figure striding beautifully along, and breezed past into the lead with aplomb as soon as the race entered its crucial final third.

The Kenyan was now in full flight and control to swiftly fashion plenty of daylight behind him and kept pulling away round the last lap, occasionally checking behind, to a commanding victory and a grand premiere in his campaign to defend his Olympic crown, an eventual winning margin of 5 secs in a time of 9:20, while Kipchoge and Spaniard Juan Carlos Higuero clawed their way back and round a tiring Millington in an effective scramble for the minor podium spots.

Hay hadn’t shown much until very late when he moved into fourth past former race winner Ricky Stevenson, who had figured in the top five meantime, but even at 200m out was looking way out of a top three finish. Yet, he somehow conjured up a nearly surreal turn of gear off the last hill to storm past startled both Kipchoge and Higuero over the final several strides and snatch second in 9:25 in a memorable breakthrough performance.

The youngster had every reason to float on cloud nine after the race and he will be brimming with confidence and excitement looking ahead at a season that could hold so much in store for him, even alluding to a crack at an Olympic berth. On that evidence, he could go a long way towards that end!

Kipchoge held off Higuero to grab third in an identical time a second behind (9:26) to save the day where Stevenson consolidated a return to form a further four seconds adrift in 9:30 and a plucky Millington had to do with sixth finally in 9:34.

But there was no screen of mist or smoke to conceal the embarrassment of a deflated Bekele who dragged home way down the order in 11th in 9:42, Kipruto just a stride behind in the same time, and the great Ethiopian looks as though he has got an awful lot to do to haul back into contention for gold in the remaining months leading up to London.


1.Asbel Kiprop (KEN) 9:20, 2.Jonny Hay (U23) 9:25, 3.Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 9:26, 4.Juan Carlos Higuero (ESP) 9:26, 5.Ricky Stevenson 9:30, 6.Ross Millington 9:34, 7.Callum Hawkins (U23) 9:39, 8.Arturo Casado (ESP) 9:40, 9.Steve Vernon 9:41, …, 11.Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 9:42, 12.Brimin Kipruto (KEN) 9:42, …, 15.Tony Whiteman (V40) 10:08, 17.Adam Cotton (U23) 10:21



Senior Men’s 8km

European cross-country champion Atelaw Bekele‘s aggressive front-run tactics did not take the field by surprise, like they worked in Velenje, and Ayam Landassem clawed his way quickly back after a familiar early burst by the Belgian, with compatriot Javier Guerra and American John Grey briefly joining up.

The Spaniard tucked alongside nicely and only struck out for home in the late stages for an eventual convincing win by three seconds in 25:44 as another American, Bobby Mack, followed on through to snatch second at the end.

The Brits looked more content with team tactics, rewarded with the win in the end, and Frank Tickner showed late to edge into the top five past a tiring Guerra in 25:55. Steve Vernon, in his first race of two on the day, was back in seventh in 26 mins dead followed by Tom Humphries a further spot behind.


1.Ayam Lamdassem (ESP) 25.44, 2.Bobby Mack (USA) 25:47, 3.Atelaw Bekele (BEL) 25:47, 4.John Grey (USA) 25:52, 5.Frank Tickner 25:55, 6.Javier Guerra (ESP) 26:00, 7.Steve Vernon 26:00, 8.Tom Humphries 26:07, 10.Jonny Taylor 26:13, 16.James Walsh 26:45, 17.James Wilkinson (U23) 26:48, 18.Derek Hawkins (U23) 26:50

Teams: 1.EUR 44, 2.GBR 58, 3.USA 76



Senior Women’s 6km

1.Fionnuala Briton (IRL) 21:32, 2.Gemma Steel 21:52, 3.Elle Baker 22:08, 4.Neely Spence (USA) 22:11, 5.Freya Murray 22:17, 6.Hattie Dean 22:27, …, 8.Hannah Walker 22:29, 9.Steph Twell 22:33, 13.Naomi Taschimowitz 22:53, 18.Rosie Smith 23:18

Teams: 1.GBR 33, 2.EUR 61, 3.USA 89



The late stages of the Junior men’s race in Edinburgh where Kirubel Erassa (USA) edges out Kieron Clements and Mark Shaw for the top honours

U20 Men’s 6km

1.Kirubel Erassa (USA) 19:54, 2.Kieron Clements 19:55, 3.Mark Shaw 19:58, 4.Eddie Owens (USA) 20:08, 5.Andrew Gardner (USA) 20:11, …, 9.Jack Goodwin 20:22, 13.Charlie Grice 20:42, 17.Robbie Farnham-Rose 20:54, 18.Gordon Benson 20:56

Teams: 1.USA 16, 2.GBR 26, 3.EUR 48



Emelia Gorecka romps to a faraway victory in the junior women’s race

U20 Women’s 4km

1.Emelia Gorecka 14:48, 2.Aisling Cuffe (USA) 15:09, 3.Molly Siedel (USA) 15:57,…, 5.Iona Lake 15:27

Teams: 1.USA 15, 2.GBR 27, 3.EUR 62


Britain have weaved a wealth of tradition at the European Cross Country Championships through the years and the contingent of harriers that travelled over to Velenje, Slovenia, showed eager to uphold and add to the legacy left to them from day one, performing with flying colours.

Emelia Gorecka surged through from behind to clinch victory in the late stages of the U20 women’s race to a dream start for the squad and Richard Goodman followed up swiftly in an inspirational battling display for silver in the equivalent men’s affair before a sweeping foray by the U23 girls led by a flying Emma Pallant ensured of the top place in the medal table as early as halfway through the racing programme on Sunday.

The final end product comprising 6 golds, 5 silvers and a bronze easily surpassed the pre-championships target and made for a jubilant return home of the team draped in medals and glory.


Senior Men

The blue ribbon event, as Brendan Foster dubbed it during Sunday’s commentary, turned somewhat of an anticlimax as the British seniors never really got into the main action and were very much sunk into the large field stretched out over the course.

And if there was a reprieve of a team silver in the end it felt against the flow of the race and was owed mainly to the perpetual workrate of the lesser lights of Ryan McLeod and James Walsh to grind out crucial, as it proved, 13th and 15th places at the end.

Main medal hope Andy Vernon, an eventual ninth, got ensnared towards the middle of the pack in a beguiling, even uninspiring at times, race and only read the situation when he had slipped well behind a chasing group effectively battling for the minor medals adrift of a runaway victor Atelaw Bekele (Belgium).

The last, admittedly even beyond his own expectations, made the most of a free ride he was allowed way out in front after the third kilometre into the race, taking his chances as everyone else seemed unwilling to commit, and was fully rewarded for his enterprise to do his illustrious name full credit with a comfortable win.

Former multi-winner Sergey Legid (UKR) was never a factor and finally dropped out as Spaniard Ayad Langassem, who broke up out of the medals over 10000m in Barcelona last year, and Jose Rocha (POR) got silver and bronze while Andy Baddeley endured a quiet noon well back in 25th place, with Mark Draper a few spots ahead.


British placings: 9.Andy Vernon 29:39, 13.Ryan McLeod 29:45, 15.James Walsh 29:46, 22.Mark Draper 29:51, 25.Andy Baddeley 29:57, 37.Frank Tickner 30:24

Team 2nd 59pts

Full Results



Senior Women

Gemma Steel turned in a performance as solid  in material as her surname to accomplish her finest feat in her short international running career in the shape of a battling bronze behind a commanding Fionnuala Britton (Ireland), stamping her authority on the contest from the early days.

The John Nuttall-coached Brit showed content to stay off the hot early pace up front and work her way up the field gradually along with Scot Freya Murray to move into the top ten positions by the second lap, a rather shaky Hattie Dean tracking them a little further behind.

Steel’s patient waiting game and industry didn’t take long to pay dividends picking off one after the other the leading pack who were suffering under the hammer of the Irish’s relentless tempo and tapering off, moving first past Portugal’s Dulce Felix into third and then round Italy’s Nadia Ejjafini into the silver medal spot midway through the penultimate lap – the duo having run 2h25:40 and 2h26:15 in the marathon recently.

Her confidence high now, she even drew within striking distance of Britton approaching the bell and momentarily looked as though she could pull off a major shocker but her rival had still plenty left in the tank to move up another gear and away nonchallantly to a commanding victory.

Steel came under a powerful attack by Felix, who had somehow conjured up a reserve of strength to charge back into the medals, round the last lap to be eventually edged out of silver in the fading stages of the race, but that could hardly take anything away from a brilliant performance and a well-deserved bronze – her smile told the whole story in the end.

What’s more, Murray, Julia Bleasdale and Elle Baker pulled their weight nicely around to come behind in succession from 12th through to 14th place and ensure the British outfit of a further team gold – a fitting birthday present for the last the following day.

An off-colour Dean trailed well behind for a disappointing 18th outside 27 mins but hopefully that will turn out simply a bad day at the office for her.

British placings: 3.Gemma Steel 26:04, 12.Freya Murray 25:51, 13.Julia Bleasdale 26:58, 14.Elle Baker 26:59, 18.Hattie Dean 27:07, Emily Wicks DNF

Team 1st 42pts

Full Results



U23 Men

James Wilkinson showed that he is coming of age and firmly on track to take up the reins and lead British steeplechase out of the shadows as he delivered an assured, inspirational performance over the course of Velenje that was bested only by the brilliance and superior footwork of French miler Florian Carvalho in the late stages.

The event offered two sharply contrasting sides as runners looked happy to virtually parade in large numbers around and none interested to take the initiative for the best part, the Russians showing some unconvincing intention to control things from the front, and sparked to life only towards the end of the penultimate lap when the Briton drifted ahead.

Looking round to identify his surroundings, he took a few moments to make up his mind and then forged ahead to quickly break up the field with fellow ‘mohawk’ Briton Mitch Goose slotting in behind him, acting like a shield.

Into the final circuit, ‘Wilco’ piled on the pace to narrow the contenders down to four, Goose dropping behind, looking strong but could offer nothing when Carvalho employed his mile speed to surge past into the front and swiftly carve out plenty of daylight on his rivals, tearing along to a comprehensive victory by a good three seconds.

Meanwhile, the battle for the lesser silverware was winding up behind as Norwegian Sondre Moen temporarily showed to have made a decisive move for silver with German Richard Ringer shadowing third and Wilkinson having dropped fourth now.

Nevertheless, the Briton hadn’t said his final word as he dug deep on his steeplechase strength to power past his opponents off the last turn and clinch the runner-up spot himself in awesome fashion, with Moen finally settling for bronze – a display suggesting that a move into the 8:20s over the barriers is well on the cards come summer.

Goose came a creditable eighth some way behind and combined with a useful account by Derek Hawkins back in 26th draw Britain second in the team standings for an additional silver.

British placings: 2.James Wilkinson 23:47, 8.Mitch Goose 23:57, 26.Derek Hawkins 24:18, 40.Phillip Berntsen 26:32, 41.Matt Gillespie 24:32, 45.Matt Graham 24:35

Team 2nd 76pts

Full Results



U23 Women

The British girls were highly tipped to conquer the summit of Velenje and turned equal to their ranking on the day although a sweeping victory arrived from a rather unexpected source, with an inspired Emma Pallant turning in a sensational performance.

The 22-year-old athlete hadn’t really sparkled since a promising track season opener of 4:09.96 over 1500m well back in Rabat in May 2009, albeit a bronze medalllist in Albufeira last year, and slipped down the pecking order even in her own training group of Mick Woods’s golden girls but her resilience carried her through to come up with a real statement that she is back to her best.

It was Steph Twell that began a long drive for home past the bell, in a venture to craft a fairytale return to the international scene, and was quickly joined up front by Pallant and a surprisingly fluent and composed Naomi Taschimowitz, who has been swiftly rising through the British distance ranks.

The three Britons combined well to open up a considerable lead on a small chasing group formed behind, comprising Germans Corinna Harrer and Anna Hahner as well as Ukrainian Victoriya Pohoryelska, and looked briefly as though they were pulling away for a clean sweep of medals.

However, as the last lap rolled on Twell was struggling to sustain her pace at the front and the pursuing trio paid heed to claw their way gradually back, whereon Pallant sensed the danger to strike out for home in a decisive move.

Rather surprisingly, none could muster any sort of response as the AFD runner poured on the pace to nonchallantly dominate the field, crossing the line full of running with a good five seconds to spare in 19:57. On this evidence, she could emerge as a serious contender for a place in the 5000m for Britain in London.

As if bearing years of experience on her shoulders, Taschimowitz once more timed her own effort and kick to perfection to wrap up a brilliant breakthrough display with silver whereas Twell was, sadly, pipped out of bronze by Harrer in the dying stages, yet another big step in quick succession back to her best form with a consolation of a comfortable team gold in the end.

Hannah Walker, topping the U23s in Liverpool a fortnight before, endured an uncharacteristic low flight in just seventh and Lauren Howarth came 13th as all six Britons figured in the top 20 for an impressive demonstration of strength in depth.

British placings: 1.Emma Pallant 19:57, 2.Naomi Taschimowitz 20:02, 4.Steph Twell 20:03, 7.Hannah Walker 20:12, 13.Lauren Howarth 20:34, 20.Lily Partridge 20:58

Team 1st 14pts

Full Results



U20 Men

British placings: 2.Richard Goodman 17:51, 8.Jonny Hay 18:09, 9.Kieren Clements 18:10, 11.Niall Fleming 18:18, 17.Mark Shaw 18:27, 25.Jack Goodwin 18:33

Team 1st 30pts

Full Results



U20 Women

British placings: 1.Emelia Gorecka 13:13, 6.Annabel Gummow 13:34, 16.Gemma Kersey 13:53, 17.Katie Holt 13:56, 31.Laura Muir 14:06, 33.Beth Carter 14:07

Team 1st 40pts

Full Results




(more later..)

UK Athletics have just announced the make-up of the British team that will travel to Vilenje, Slovenia, to contest the year’s European Cross-Country Championships next weekend.

There are no surprise calls whatever involved, save maybe that sensational U17 prospect Jessica Judd hasn’t eventually been picked for the U20 women’s outfit, as selectors seem to have gone stricktly by the book and for top five finishers at the respective Trials held in Liverpool on Saturday.

The mid to late stages in the women’s race with Hattie Dean a creditable seventh at last year’s European XC Championships

Steph Twell has been named as expected on a strong U23 women’s side, featuring Hannah Walker, Lauren Howarth and Emma Pallant,  that show the makings of firm gold medal contenders as Andy Baddeley returns to the picture after a while to join the likes of Andy Vernon.

Apart from the U23 women, the U20 women’s side look odds-on to claim the European title spearheaded by the fabulous duo of Emelia Gorecka and Annabel Gummow, silver and bronze medallists over 5000m in Kaunas last summer.

The overall side selected has as follows:

Senior Men

Andy Baddeley, Mark Draper, Ryan McLeod, Frank Tickner, Andy Vernon, James Walsh

Senior Women

Elle Baker, Julia Bleasdale, Hatti Dean, Freya Murray, Gemma Steel, Emily Wicks

U23 Men

Philip Berntsen, Matthew Gillespie, Mitch Goose, Matthew Graham, Derek Hawkins, James Wilkinson

U23 Women

Lauren Howarth, Emma Pallant, Lily Partridge, Naomi Taschimowitz, Steph Twell, Hannah Walker

U20 Men

Kieran Clements, Niall Fleming, Richard Goodman, Jack Goodwin, Jonny Hay, Mark Shaw

U20 Women

Beth Carter, Emelia Gorecka, Annabel Gummow, Katie Holt, Gemma Kersey, Laura Muir

Senior Men (9.8km)

Andy Vernon has opened his individual account on the country to fabulous effect as he streaked past a surprisingly strong Mark Draper in the dying stages of the senior men’s race to convincingly defend his title in 29:19 in windy conditions, placing a good three seconds in between.

The World Student Games champion opted to sit in the leading pack to keep close hold of procedures throughout and didn’t hit the front but for roughly the last furlong where his superior track speed over the distance told. A substantial mental boost, he has got now a sterner task on his hands at the racing ground of Vilenje in less than a fortnight as he is turning to face his last year’s demons and force his way into the medals.

Highlights from Liverool on Saturday

Likewise, distance ‘drifter’ Draper, hardly a familiar figure in these quarters, cashed in on his recent altitude training spell in Kenya into runner-up (29:22) straight away and is looking for a lot more in Slovenia while hopefully earning a British vest will Mark a new beginning for him to reach his potential – maybe reverting to the barriers as shown late in summer?

Third, a mere two seconds adrift, came Ryan McLeod, the son of Olympic 10000m silver medallist Mike, to grab the last automatic slot in a solid display and returning-to-action Andy Baddeley may have done enough to earn his place following in fourth at a similar distance behind.

Apparently moving up to 5000m, the Beijing 1500m finalist employed a more reserved early pattern and showed only in the second half of the race to work his way through, edging out early leader James Walsh in an identical time (29:26) at the end.

Bristol’s winner Frank Tickner wound up sixth in 29:29, Steve Vernon was seventh some way behind in 29:38 while marathon Olympic hopeful Phil Wicks occupied an eventual ninth in 29:49 and US-based Keith Gerrard closed out the top ten in 29:52.


1.Andy Vernon 29:19, 2.Mark Draper 29:22, 3.Ryan McLeod 29:24, 4.Andy Baddeley 29:26, 5.James Walsh 29:26, 6.Frank Tickner 29:29, 7.Steve Vernon 29:38, 8.Ben Whitby 29:45, 9.Phil Wicks 29:49, 10.Keith Gerrard 29:52, 11.Jonny Taylor 29:53, …, 16.Jonny Mellor 30:04, 17.Ricky Stevenson 30:05, 19.David Bishop 30:05, 28.Jon Pepper 30:18, 26.Ben Moreau 30:20, 28.Glen Watts 30:29, 38.Steve Mitchell 30:56


U23 Men

‘American’ Mitch Goose rose a rather surprise U23 top finisher in 29:55, 12th overall, in a separate contest incorporated into the senior’s race but, rather astonishingly, it wasn’t pre-race favourite James Wilkinson he had to hold off to the title, trailing well behind in fifth (22nd overall) by a good 16 secs. But, quite likely, a one-off for the latter who ought to be shown confidence and be drafted into the age group outfit still.

Dereck Hawkins came home in second  just under 30 minutes (29:59) and steeplechaser Matthew Graham got his hands on the last automatic spot in 30:05.


1.Mitch Goose 29:55 (12th overall), 2.Dereck Hawkins 29:59 (14th), 3.Matthew Graham 30:05 (18th), 4.Matthew Gillespie 30:09 (20th), 5.James Wilkinson 30:11 (22nd), 6.Ashley Harrell 30:12 (24th), 7.John McDonnell 30:33 (32nd), 8.Charlie McLean 30:39 (42nd), 9.Daniel Clorley 31:04 (44th)


U20 Men (6.7km)

Jonny Hay emerged an impressive winner out of his much anticipated duel with Richard Goodman as his sizzling turn of pace in the final burn-up saw him fashion sheer daylight of six seconds between them at the end, clocking 20:23 to 20:29 respectively.

Both were very pleased with their displays, however, having also just returned from altitude training in Kenya. The last automatic berth was staked out by Mark Shaw who slotted nicely in the gap between the top duo and fourth-placer Kieran Clements for a convincing third in 20:37.


1.Jonny Hay 20:23, 2.Richard Goodman 20:29, 3.Mark Shaw 20:37, 4.Kieran Clements 20:44, 5.Niall Fleming 20:46, 6.Jack Goodwin 20:53, …, 8.Robbie Farnham-Rose 21:00, 9.Charlie Grice 21:05


U17 Men

1.Laurrie Probert 17:38, 2.Charlie Joslin-Allen 17:42, 3.James Lanswood 17:47, 4.Tom Bains 17:50


Senior Women (8.1km)

A dark horse as she had been going into the Trials, steeplechaser Hattie Dean showed plenty of horsepower in her gear to upstage pre-race favourite Gemma Steel into a fairytale comeback on the country of Liverpool, having not raced since late May in Rome.

But a touch of altitude training in the land of the runners, the famous Rift Valley, went a long way against a currently flying Steel, on an unbeaten run since September, who made her intentions clear from early on to make a tough pace out of it from the front and not leave matters to a late burn-up at the hands of faster finishers.

And her tactics all but worked to plan quickly since soon only Dean was still following along, yet fairly comfortably, as the two kept moving away from the rest of the field with every stride and lap.  But when the crunch came, the Barcelona ‘chase fourth placer’s strength and track speed told to work her crucial space that stretched up to four seconds in the end for a superb victory and a big confidence boost.

Needless to say that both booked their place on the team to Vilenje a fortnight on, clocking 27:05 and 27:09 respectively, with Scott Freya Murray, racing into form after an intermittent year due to sorts of injuries, just pipping up-and-coming U23 Hannah Walker for the last automatic place as both shared the same time of 27:32. The latter must have been more than content to clinch her age group title though.

A race of fairytale returns was most fittingly suplemented a place behind with the delightful sight of Steph Twell, in her first serious competitive test since her freak ankle injury in February, who applied well and performed beyond all expectations to secure the runner-up spot and a berth in the U23 side in 27:37. Maybe the story of the day above all with her hopes receiving a massive mental boost in view of London next summer.

Charlene Thomas, also on a return after a lengthy injury lay-off, came in well behind in 14th in 28:15 and Sian Edwards, a nearly forgotten golden prospect of the recent past, trailed a long way back in 34th well over two minutes behind the top places; can she revive the promise she showed in the U20 ranks only a few seasons ago?


1.Hattie Dean 27:05, 2.Gemma Steel 27:09, 3.Freya Murray 27:32, 4.Hannah Walker (U23) 27:32, 5.Steph Twell (U23) 27:37, 6.Julia Bleasdale 27:39, 7.Elle Baker 27:44, 8.Naomi Taschimovitz (U23) 27:45, 9.Emma Pallant (U23) 28:04, 10.Emily Wicks 28:05, …, 14.Charlene Thomas 28:15, 15.Justina Heslop 28:19, 16.Lauren Howarth (U23) 28:24, 17.Katrina Wooton 28:26, 19.Natalie Harvey 28:39, 20.Jessica Sparke 28:35, 31.Andrea Whitcombe (W35) 28:35, 24.Emily Pidgeon (U23) 28:43, 25.Beth Potter (U23) 28:49, 30.Kate Avery (U23) 29:10, 31.Jessica Coulson (U23) 29:21, 32.Abbey McGhee (U23) 29:24, 34.Sian Edwards 29:31, 41.Felicity Milton 29:41


U23 Women

Behind Walker and a buoyant Twell, new face in the swim Naomi Taschimovitz ensured of a British vest taking third in 27:45 and Emma Pallant followed in fourth in 28:04 to effectively qualify herself.

On the other hand, Lauren Howarth must have been disappointed with just a 16th finish in 28:24 while Emily Pidgeon ranged further adrift in 24th in 28:43 and Kate Avery ended up well down the order in 30th in 29:10, both still looking to find their way.

Most surprisingly, new Mick Woods-asset Jess Coulson trailed way behind in 31st only a couple of months on setting a UK age best over 10 miles, some niggle possibly creeping in in the interim.

1.Hannah Walker 27:32, 2.Steph Twell 27:37, 3.Naomi Taschimovitz 27:45, 4.Emma Pallant 28:04, 5.Lily Partridge 28:09, 6.Lauren Howarth 28:24


U20 Women (4.4km)

The eagerly anticipated three-way clash in the affair, incorporating the U17 group, remained on paper as Emelia Gorecka turned up with ideas of her own to demolish the field with aplomb in the most impressive performance of the day.

The race stood as a contest only round the first lap until the European U20 5000m silver medallist, another one of Mick Woods’s wonder girls, moved up a gear to swiftly open up a decisive gap that was ever growing and claim the race sight unseen.

Her final winning margin of 16 seconds, wrapping up the distance in 14:54, simply echoed the magnitude and quality of her supremacy and form as she will be heading to Slovenia with confidence sky high to add the European title to her silverware.

Notwithstanding a thorough defeat, sensational U17 Jessica Judd turned in a stellar display of her own to convincingly hold off  European U20 bronze medallist Annabel Gummow into a superb runner-up for her tender age, clocking 15:10 to 15:15 respectively, and demonstrate her amazing range once more while Stoke’s Katie Holt emerged as a new force, just a 9:55 performer over 3000m last summer, to grab a sound fourth in 15:23 further behind.

1.Emelia Gorecka 14:54, 2.Jessica Judd (U17) 15:10, 3.Annabel Gummow 15:15, 4.Katie Holt 15:23, 5.Amy Griffiths (U17) 15:25, 6.Beth Carter 15:28, 7.Gemma Kersey 15:31, 8.Laura Muir 15:42, 9.Grace Baker (U17) 15:42


U17 Women

Apart from highly-anticipated Judd, 15-year-old Amy Griffiths shone brightly herself to clinch a striking overall fifth and second in the U17 class in 15:25 as she is rising a new fascinating prospect through the ranks and a potential heir to the summit.

Grace Baker, also 15, was third and ninth overall in 15:42 to add to a very prolific day for Woods’s group.

1.Jessica Judd 15:10, 2.Amy Griffiths 15:25, 3.Grace Baker 15:42, 4.Abbie Hetherington 16:00

Full Results




Purdue out but Twell comes in at European XC Trials in Liverpool

Top distance hopeful Charlotte Purdue will be missing the second leg of the McCain’s Cross-Country Challenge, incorporating the European Trials for Velenje (Slovenia) a fortnight on Sunday, due to a knee complaint that forced her into a slightly earlier return from a training stint in Kenya last week.

Nevertheless, the Mick Woods-coached U23 runner looks to have been pre-selected on the senior team and can solely turn her sights on the European Championships where she is aiming to steer into the medals.

By contrast, groupmate star Steph Twell, having also just returned from Kenya, is contesting her first serious race since a freak accident in February that saw her miss the entire track season, hoping to snatch a place of her own on the British team.

The 22-year-old tested her leg in a calculated gamble of a low-key road relay in September to come off well and unscathed but she is still lying some way off top shape and therefore may have to fight her way into the U23 outfit, with Hannah Walker, Lauren Howarth and teammate Emma Pallant figuring among the starters.

On the other hand, in-excellent-form Gemma Steel is brimming with confidence and pace as she heads into the race as standout senior favourite to clinch a second back-to-back victory in the series and it’s hard to see where a challenge could come from given the complexion of the affair.

Backing up her claim, the 26-year-old remains unbeaten on any surface or distance since September and would like to add to that three-on-the-trot string.

A further couple of very welcome returns to the fold involve ‘chaser Hattie Dean, fourth over the barriers in Barcelona last year, who competes for the first time since injury ruined a season that started in the most promising colours of a straight Olympic qualifier of 9:37.95 in Rome last May; as well as European Cup 1500m victor Charlene Thomas who hasn’t raced on any surface since the very same time of her highest feat so far as though following parallel fortunes.

Despite their pedigree, both are going to be unknown quantities until the contest gets going and maybe even further until it hits decisive stages, likely feeling their way into action.

Freya Murray, Justina Heslop and Julia Bleasdale are other notable names on the start-lists, which oddly don’t include the name of Thomas – a late withdrawal?

On the men’s side, the presence of World Student Games champion Andy Vernon promises an injection of quality on the opener of the series and a stern test for the likes of Frank Tickner and Phil Wicks, the prominent figures in Bristol, along with the comeback of Andy Baddeley on the country after sitting out last winter. It will be really interesting to see what sort of proposition the latter is going to offer on the back of a poor summer campaign.

U23 steeplechaser James Wilkinson has got to be a red-hot favourite among U23 men while James Walsh, Tom Humphries and Mark Draper, apparently working his way back over the barriers, are other names to watch.

Emelia Gorecka and Annabel Gummow, the silver and bronze medallists over 5000m at the European U20 Championships, engage in a very enticing duel in the junior ranks anew and the affair is spiced up nicely with the presence of sensational U17 prospect Jessica Judd.

The first three-past-the-post in each division gain automatic qualification for Slovenia although an U23 runner that finishes in a senior qualifying spot, with the two age groups blended into a single race, can still claim his place in the top tier.


Entry Lists


Selection policy


There isn’t any top drawer road event going on around this weekend but still some interesting pieces of action to pick up. But, first of all, let’s mention that Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt and Aussie hurdler Sally Pearson were named Athletes Of The Year for 2011 at the glamorous World Athletics Gala in Monaco last night.

World Athletics Gala, Monaco

Bolt claimed the illustrious award for the third time in his career courtesy mainly of his blazing dash round the furlong to a sensational 19.40 secs ahead of Walter Dix (USA) in successfully defending his global title in Daegu, as well as anchoring the Jamaican 4x100m outfit to a world record of 37.04 secs  in the curtain-drawer of the championships. Pearson, for her part, scooped the women’s respective prize first time out in the top three nominations of the institution, having notched the gold medal over the 100m hurdles in the fourth fastest time ever of 12.28 secs and winning all but one of her races during the season.

Sally Pearson blazes over the hurdles to a stunning 12.28 secs in Daegu

However, fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake could feel hard done by to be denied the gong as he produced a nearly surreal 19.26 secs over the 200m at the Diamond League in Brussels, on a poor reaction (0.259) at that, and was himself a convincing 100m global champion, where Bolt uncharacteristically blundered into a shocking false-start, and played also a key part in the Jamaican relay round the top bend himself.

As could Kenyan distance queen Vivian Cheruiyot who made an impressive golden double of the 5000 and the 10000m in Korea while also enjoying an unbeaten run over either distance on the track.

Which, in turn, may have been the ground that they were both sort of ‘compensated for’ by way of the Performance Of The Year awards by IAAF on their above mentioned feats, suggesting something like a ‘books balance-out’ policy on account of the world’s athletics governing body.

There is also a wide sense that Mo Farah could have merited a share in the men’s final cut on a nothing less than a purple patch of performances and achievements this season but hopefully he is going to force his way in through some further enthralling displays on the track of the Olympic stadium of London next year.

IAAF report




McCain UK Cross-Country Challenge, Bristol

Frank Tickner and strong favourite Gemma Steel have been the winners in men and women at the McCain’s Challenge earlier on in Bristol in very good racing conditions, the latter romping to an around 41 secs sound victory margin over Naomi Taschimowitz and a round 50 secs on returning Justina Heslop – the winning time at 25:26.

That was a fitting way to celebrate her 26th birthday yesterday as the Charnwood runner is enjoying the form of her life and targeting the European Cross-Country Championships next month.

Jessica Sparke was seventh in 27:15 and Kate Avery is still looking some way off her best self to come only 12th in 28:04.

Gemma Steel

Senior women’s results http://www.runbristol.com/files/xc/SeniorWomenResult.pdf

The men’s race built up into a much more competitive affair and it came only in the closing stages that Tickner, who astonishingly hasn’t raced on the track since 2008, drew away to clinch top honours in 29:56 from eventual runner-up Phil Wicks (30:08) and U23 Welshman Dewi Griffiths (30:17).

Senior men’s results http://www.runbristol.com/files/xc/SeniorMenResult.pdf

In the U20 province, Kieran Clements was a thorough top marker by some 45 secs in 23:31 from Irishman Liam Brady while Annabel Gummow, the European U20 5000m bronze medallist, demolished the field by a huge gap of 1:24 to cross the line in 17:43.

U20 men results http://www.runbristol.com/files/xc/U20MenResult.pdf

U20 women results http://www.runbristol.com/files/xc/U20WomenResult.pdf

Meanwhile, Emelia Gorecka, the European U20 silver medallist over 5000m, was the winner in the women’s senior race at the Hamshire League on Saturday.



NCAA Regionals – Millington third in Utah

Ross Millington built further on his good early run of outings on the American country as he placed third over the men’s roughly 10km course in 30:24.8 at the NCAA Mountain Region XC Championships held at Provo, Utah. The European U23 5000m silver medallist was pleased with his display and wasn’t far off winner Miles Batty (30:09.3) and runner-up and home favourite Cameron Levins (30:11.5).

Millington’s side, the University of New Mexico, finished just outside the top three spots in fourth.

Men’s Results


Former steeplechaser Ruth Senior, a global U20 finalist in 2006, was the highest finisher among British girls in 7th in 21:05.8 over the 6km route in a race won comfortably by Kenyan Risper Kimaiyo (Texas) in 20:35.2 but did head New Mexico on top of the team standings, with Sarah Waldron 13th in 21:21.3.

Natalie Gray, Kirsty Milner and Imogen Ainsworth followed some way back in close succession in 20th, 21st and 23rd respectively and apparently working their way through on team tactics.

Women’s Results



David Forrester returned to winning ways as he edged out teammate Michael Fout by nearly three seconds in 30:43.3 to 30:46.0, ensuring Florida of an easy top spot in the team standings in the South Regionals.

Hannah Brooks was a close runner-up behind Amanda Winslow as Florida made a clean sweep of the podium places in Tuscaloosa, topping the women’s table in the process.

Men’s Results http://flashresults.com/2012_Meets/xc/11-12-D1South/Results-2.htm

Women’s Results http://flashresults.com/2012_Meets/xc/11-12-D1South/Results-1.htm


Callum Hawkins extended his strong start to the cross-country term as he saw off Eric Finan (Cincinatti) to victory by over seven seconds in a time of 30:01.5 at the Great Lakes Regionals. Ross Clarke was 13th in 30:36.5.

Men’s Results



Tom Farrell, second European U23 over 5000m last summer, wound up sixth in 31:23.03 in a tight finish affair where only winner Hassan Mead edged off to a six-second margin at the end in the Midwest division.

Men’s Results http://www.trxctiming.com/NCAA_XC_D1/2011/men_10k_finish.htm


Mitch Goose was fifth for Iona in 31:28.0 at the North East Regionals held by the University of Buffalo, with teammate Leonard Korir (KEN) the winner in 31:10.3. Hollie Rowland was third in the women’s 6km in 20:40.2 some way behind top finisher Abbey D’Agostino (20:25.3).

Men’s Results http://www.buffalobulls.com/sports/xc/2011-12/files/Men.htm

Women’s Results http://www.buffalobulls.com/sports/xc/2011-12/files/Women.htm



Merga gets off to winning start on the country in Spain

Imane Merga may have endured an entire track season without a single victory to his credit on the circuit but back on the country he showed a different proposition. The Ethiopian and his ‘killing elbows’ managed to haul in a powerful late surge by Eritrean Kidane Tadesse over the last 300m to edge past and back to winning ways at Atapuerca by a mere second, crossing the line in 27:21 to 27:22 respectively. Humengnaw Mesfin (ETH) was a close third a further two seconds behind.

By contrast, Linet Masai (KEN) turned a runaway victor in the women’s race in 24:20 as she carved out a sound 22 secs on runner-up Belaynesg Oljira (ETH), with fellow Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo closing out the top three an additional ten seconds behind.

U23 Briton Hannah Walker placed a creditable eighth in that very good quality race in a time of 26:20 as she is building up nicely towards the new season.



Boubker comes away with convincing win in Athens Marathon

30-year-old Abdelkerim Boubker rose a rather surprise but yet convincing victor on the demanding original marathon course of Athens in the face of cold blustery conditions. The Moroccan set a creditable time of 2h11:40, among the fastest ever set thereon, to comfortably hold off Kenyan Sammy Kipkosgei Chumba who came home second in 2h13:27.

The well-versed on the course will tell you that it adds up to even three and a half to four minutes on what one would run on a fast course like Berlin or London due to tough lengthy and treacherous uphill segments and turns during the first 30km of the race or thereabouts, which require a gentle and astute approach to tackle.

Interestingly, runner-up Chumba said after the race “I think I’m capable of 2ho8 on another course!”

Elfeneshe Melkamu (ETH) inched off to a close win over Ukraine’s Kamila Khanipova in 2h35:25 to 2h35:31 in the women’s version.

Results (Top 20)



El Idrissi edges surprise victory in Turin

Sunday turned out into a rare Moroccan double triumph out of two marathon runs on the Mediterrenean as Italy-based Ennaji El Idrissi, a 13:06.81 performer over 5000m on the track, shocked the favourites to edge away to victory in a big PB of 2h08:13.

Kenya’s William Chebor was second in 2h08:21, Ethiopian Bacha Megersa was third in 2h08:55 and also Kenyan Peter Kurui was just outside the podium in 2h08:58 to work a surprising depth in the affair.

Ukraine’s Yuliya Ruban eased to a thorough win in the women’s version in 2h27:10, a mere 10 secs outside her PB.


‘Life in the Big Apple moves very fast and so must you’ goes a big hit by British electro pop band Kajagoogoo way back in the first half of the 80s and it looks to blend so well with the occasion of the New York marathon tomorrow and its prelude 5k events later today, which form the main dish and feature during this weekend on the athletics scene worldwide.

For anyone will have to run real fast to be competitive and have a chance to gain a share in the limelight and the spoils in the streets of the famous American city, pretty much like the pace of life therein.

On the domestic front, the National Cross-Country Relays line up as the main theme and will offer an early gauge of the winter build-up and shape of many middle and long distance prospects on show.

Geoffrey Mutai runs away with victory in a course record of 2h05:06 in New York despite the absence of pacemakers

Rampant Geoffrey Mutai epitomises Kenyan dominance

Whatever glimmers of hope the Ethiopians might have held out, mainly in the semblance of defending champion Gebre Gebremariam, that they could finally buck the daunting trend and spoil the Kenyan party in the anchor leg of the Majors in the Big Apple were quickly mercilessly battered and sunk deep as the Rift Valley storm gathered and raged on over the final third of the distance.

Pavey inside the Olympic A qualifier in the New York Marathon

Jo Pavey turned in a solid display to come an eventual ninth in 2h28:42 in the highly rated New York marathon, going through the halfway point in a sensible 73:57, and bolstered up her current second place behind Paula Radcliffe among British women this season.

That was just 18 seconds shy of her debut and PB of 2h28:24 set in London last April to show sound consistency on top, but didn’t take her game well beyond the rest of the contenders for places in London and therefore she will very likely need to race again over the distance to ensure of an Olympic berth.

John Beattie endured a painful baptism of fire as he faded badly in the late stages of the men’s race to clock 2h23:43, which was well outside his aim coming into the race.



International Road & Cross-Country racing round-up


Kwambai edges win in rainy Seoul

Kenyan James Kwambai fought his way in the adverse weather conditions, rainy and chilly, to edge compatriot David Kiyeng out of a second successive win in the event in a very creditable 2h08:50 to 2h09:21 in perspective, though reasonably some way off the course record of 2h08:13 by Jason Mbote. Both runners hold much faster PBs of 2h04:27 and 2h06:26, both set on different courses in 2009, to provide a measure of their calibre. Ethiopian Yamane Tsegay was a distant third in 2h10:47.


Meantime, Joyce Jepkurui (KEN) walked away with a comfortable win in 70:57 while Solomon Kiptoo edged out countryman Peter Kosgey in 62:23 to 62:39 respectively for a Kenyan double over the Baringo Half Marathon.


On the country, Lucy Kabuu (KEN), the Great North Run winner, mounted a winning run of 26:29 over the 8km course to fend off the pressure of Penine Nenkampi, second in 26:34, as she continues her return after a long spell in the twilight due to a severe achilles injury and pregnacy.



Saucony ECCA Relays, Mansfield, England, November 5

Senior Men

Steve Vernon produced a strong opening run of 15:26.45, fastest of the day, to put Stockport well in control out in front and they went on untroubled to notch up a comfortable win by a good 53 seconds on second-placed Leeds, led off by season breakthrough man James Walsh in 15:37.40.

City of Norwich were second going into the final section but Leed’s Simon Deakin‘s 16:10.10 tail-end pushed them down one place into a final third.




Senior Women

Gemma Steel displayed her fabulous late form to excellent account as she powered through from fourth at the final handover and past AFD’s Emma Pallant, the former global U20 1500m bronze medallist, in the fastest leg of the day (9:49.30) to anchor Charnwood to a solid fourth straight victory in Mansfield.

Pallant, for her part, put in the second fastest run in 10:10.75 while U23 Hannah Walker clocked 10:16.35 to take the Birchfield ‘A’ team two places up into an eventual third.

Daegu 800m semifinalist Emma Jackson was a late draft-in to anchor Stoke into eighth in a useful10:56.85 country strength workout.




U20 Men

18-year-old Tom Purnell brought Stroud & District, from the beautiful Cotswalds, home to a convincing win over Kent’s Tonbridge by around 16 secs, the latter taking in highly-rated miler Robbie Farnham-Rose over the intermediate run.




U20 Women

Shaftesbury Barnet coasted to the title as they placed a sizeable margin of around 53 seconds on their closest pursuers, the City Of Norwich, and never came under threat through the course.




U17 Men

Tonbridge AC weathered the pressure from AFD through the race effectively to edge on top by five seconds in the end, as highly talented Zac Seddon‘s brother Matthew led off Bracknell AC to bronze.




U17 Women

Middle-distance sensation Jessica Judd totally let rip round the anchor leg to storm from eighth through to the top and steer Chelmsford AC to a convincing triumph by almost 10 seconds, offering easily the fastest run of the day in 8:21.60.

15-year-old Grace Baker left plenty of good impressions as she contributed a sound final leg of 8:56.10 to take AFD up a place to second as she couldn’t do anything against the onslaught of Judd.





McLarty makes winning return on the country

Morag McLarty, a former European U20 1500m champion, has returned to racing after a whole 15 months out due to injury in confident mood as she won the women’s 4km at the Scottish National Championships in Glasgow.

The 25-year-old trains alongside Eilish McColgan in Liz McColgan‘s group and holds a PB of 4:10.86 from last year.



Pavey faces cracking field in the ‘Big Apple’

Jo Pavey will be faced with a line-up of the highest calibre when she steps out to tackle the 26.2-mile course in quest of a faster qualifying time to boost her Olympic chances round the streets of New York, winding up on a demanding late uphill weaving into Central Park on Sunday.

Heading entries feature top Kenyan Mary Keitany, the London marathon conqueror last April in a superb sixth fastest all-time 2h19:19, and on-fire Kiwi Kim Smith who comes into the race on a US all-comers record of 67:11 over the half-marathon in Philadelphia in September.

The latter was on schedule for an astonishing time before disaster struck as she cramped up with around 10 miles to go in Boston last spring and may like to test Keitany, for some the arguable world’s top marathon runner at the moment, from the front employing some searing pace, a fervent front runner herself.

Come to that, she could handsomely deputise for the absence of ‘mercenary’ pacemakers from New York once more and set up a thrilling battle as well as some sizzling times at the end of the affair.

Nevertheless, the Brit should be intent on her own game plan and goal to improve on her debut of 2h28:24 in London last April and advance her position in the race for places in the distance on the British Olympic team, with the relative selection panel first meeting imminent in exactly a month from now.

Despite a convincing defeat at the hands of Gemma Steel up in Sheffield a few weeks ago, she should be good enough and gearing up to something around 2h25 which would make for a strong selection ground on her part.

European cross-country champion Jessica Augusto (POR) is going to be a dark horse lining up in her second ever marathon, making a sound debut of 2h24:33 also in London, while Russian Inga Abitova, former world cross-country champion Werknesh Kidane (ETH) and returning American Jen Rhines are other names to watch out for.


Incidentally, John Beattie will be going through his initiation to the distance in the men’s race and it’s going to be interesting to see whether he could lay a claim on the Olympic A qualifying standard of 2h12:00.

The Tulsa-based runner, 25 years of age, has had a lean competitive itinenary this year, probably down to injuries, but his last stop was an encouraging debut of 64:50 in the half marathon at the BUPA Great North Run so he hopes that things could come together into a solid opening time over the ultimate distance.

In the top drawer, defending champion Gebre Gebremariam represents Ethiopians’ last chance and stand to salvage some pride and end the Kenyan’s amazing winning streak that extends over all top five Majors so far, with New York the anchor leg of the series.

In fact, the Kenyans stand only a single step away of making history as the first country ever to sweep the whole six-stage haul in a single season, topping off an astonishing ascendancy over the distance.

But even he hasn’t looked so convincing recently and was a worrying early departure at the World Championships in Daegu where Albert Kirui (KEN) dominated nonchalantly to the global crown. Further, he is going to be faced with the menacing pace of Geoffrey Mutai, the man who scorched to the fastest time ever recorded of 2h03:02 in Boston, and his namesake Emmanuel, the winner in London in a course milestone of 2h04:40 last April, so his mission is anything but easy.

As things turn, the Kenyans do seem to have the upper hand going into the race, debutant Matthew Kisorio a potential major boost to their ranks, but they will have to count in Beijing bronze medallist Tsegaye Kebede before they start sharing the spoils.


Thommo takes New York route

Chris Thompson will be swinging round the UN building and up to Central Park via the route of the inaugural Dash To The Finish Line 5km in New York today, the Guy Fawkes Day and Bonfire Night, as he continues his early build-up towards the Olympic season.

The European 10000m silver medallist said that has been in phenomenal shape in training in his interview after finishing fourth at the Great South Run on Sunday so he would like to add some fireworks of his own in the streets of the ‘Big Apple’ on the occasion of November 5 in his very own way.

The event will serve as an appetizer to the New York Marathon the following day and among Thommo’s main rivals will be top Americans Dathan Ritzenhein and Matt Tegenkamp.

World 10000m silver medallist Sally Kipyego (KEN) stands out from a relative stronger-in-depth women’s field that also shows Molly Huddle, the American 5000m record holder, Deena Castor, the Athens 2004 marathon bronze medallist, Lisa Uhl (nee Koll) and Sarah Hall.

The fields of both men and women’s 5ks:


Great Haile Gebrselassie shrugged off the disappointment of Berlin last month to storm to a commanding victory on the windy and hilly course of the ‘Brum’ and restore his hopes of claiming a place on the Olympic squad of Ethiopia for London.

Racing after a long time in a city he holds special ties with, the Ethiopian picked up around the seventh mile to quickly fashion plenty of daylight on his rivals and never looked back, pushing on into the wind through the second half of the race.

A stiff late uphill really tested his strength and took a dent into his time towards the end but coming on top he was able to indulge in his return to the winning trail and beam across the line in 61:29, turning immediately his sights on the outlet of his renewed bid for an Olympic qualifier in Tokyo come February.

Haile still reckons that only a clocking in the region of 2h05 can earn him substantial hopes of selection but a look at the current form of most of his top countrymen suggests that even a 2h07 might turn sufficient enough. But then again, only time and events will tell.

Essa Rashed (QAT) followed on a clear runner-up roughly a minute behind in 62:28 while Daegu marathon 4th marker Abderrahime Bouramdane (MAR) was well-beaten into a distant third in 63:57, failing to make his credentials count.

Bud Baldaro-coached Jon Pepper, a useful steeplechaser in his U20 days in 2007, and U23 Welshman Dewi Griffiths (debut) turned on solid runs to post PBs of 65:32 and 65:40 for sixth and seventh respectively, taking the scalp of Commonwealth marathon champion John Kelai (KEN, 66:00).

In women, in-impressive-form Gemma Steel carried on from where she left off at the ERRA Relays at Sutton Park last weekend to nonchalantly dominate in a big new PB of 72:21, previous best at 73:32 in Bristol last month, into the wind and could well start pondering on her own chances of bidding for an Olympic place in the 10000m at the rate of her progress.

Still on heavy mileage ahead of Yokohama marathon, Louise Damen did not have the legs to cope with Steel’s sound pace and had to be content with a decent 73:51 timing in second place. She holds an A qualifier of 2h30:00 from London in April but that probaby won’t be sufficient and will need to slice at least two or three minutes off to stand a good chance.

Also Yokohama-bound Mara Yamauchi was a late scratch due to a minor knee injury and she may set her attention on the Great South Run 10-miler as a late sharpener.



Charlie Purdue, back flying in both training and racing, put in a strong tail-end run to lead a strong Mick Woods-guided quartet to a comfortable win for Aldershot, Farnham & District at the women’s ERRA Road Relays in Birmingham, covering her part in a fluent 13:48.

Emma Pallant put them in front through a solid second leg of 14:16 to open up a 29-second gap on the opposition and drafted-in U20 Emelia Gorecka held her ground well over a third section of 14:30, sustaining a 12-second cushion for the ‘Pocket Rocket’ going into the anchor.

The European U20 5000m silver medalist was pleased with her run as she kept the attacks of Hannah Walker (14:08) and European U20 5000m bronze medalist Annabel Gummow (14:15) at bay.

Surprisingly, the fastest time of the day didn’t belong to Purdue but a surging Gemma Steel in 13:45, taking Charnwood up two places for runner-ups, to follow up on a shocking convincing win over Jo Pavey in Sheffield last weekend. There should also be noted a strong lead-off by return U23 girl Jess Coulson in 13:51 for Stockport.

Fastest legs: 1.Gemma Steel 13:45, 2.Charlie Purdue (U23) 13:48,  3.Jess Coulson (U23) 13:51, 4.Hannah Walker (U23) 14:08, 5.Lauren Howarth (U23) 14:14

Teams: 1.AFD A 57:17, 2.Charnwood AC 58:20, 3.Bristol & West AC 58:50

Full Results


World Student champion Andy Vernon injected a solid 16:58 penultimate leg to place AFD well in control of the men’s contest and set up Ben Moreau to anchor the side to a double of titles by over half a minute. But the man that caught the eye was U23 steeplechaser James Wilkinson who stormed to a 16:38 finishing run for fourth-placed Leeds AC.

Fastest legs: 1.James Wilkinson (U23) 16:38, 2.Andy Vernon 16:58, 3.Zak Kihara 17:02, 4.Keith Gerrard 17:07, 5.Dewi Griffiths (U23) 17:07

Teams: 1.AFD A 1h44:51, 2.Birchfield 1h45:22, 3.NEB 1h45:30

Full Results


Meanwhile, Phil Wicks has gained the Olympic qualifying B standard in the marathon as he ran a decent debut of 2h15:37 to occupy 21st place in a very fast race in the streets of Amsterdam, overrun as it has become a familiar sight this season by Kenyans who filled all five top positions in sub 2h07 times at that!

The Belgrave runner was on A standard schedule for a considerable part of the race but missed his drinks up to the 24km, cramped up at the 32dn and inevitably tailed off in the late stages as a consequence.