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UK Athletics

St Mary's adidas Relays

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The latest events in UK Challenge series took place at St Mary's College, Twickenham as part of the St Mary’s adidas Relays meeting on Wednesday 7 June. The athletes and spectators including Dame Kelly Holmes, Linford Christie and Dave Bedford enjoyed glorious sunshine and almost perfect conditions for some top class UKA Endurance Initiative 3000m races.


Pacemakers and the added bonus of British-only prize money, in addition to UK Challenge points combined to produce some exciting races and a string of personal bests. The 3000m Endurance Initiative races were generously sponsored by adidas with a £1000 first prize with £500 for the runner-up and £250 for third place.


The women's 3000m was built around the battle between Britain's top class juniors and ultimately it resulted in another fine performance from European Junior 5000m Champion Emily Pidgeon (Gloucester AC).


It was hard to believe that she has only just turned 17 in the mature way she ran the race. The Kenyan pacemakers towed the field around the first lap in 72 seconds with Pidgeon immediately taking up her position behind them. Sian Edwards (Kettering), a brilliant 10th in the junior race in the World Cross Country who got caught at the start was quick to sprint through into a challenging position behind.


The pace dropped off to over 75 seconds for the second lap and there were still half a dozen in contention as they passed the kilometer mark in 3:03 but with two laps in under 72 seconds Pidgeon was the only one able to stay with the Kenyans.


Through 2,000m (6:05), it was clear that the Gloucester runner was going to smash her PB and with Vivian Cheryuiot ahead all the way on the last lap, Pidgeon won the British-only race in 9:06.87, reserving her fastest kilometer for last, putting her sixth on the UK junior all time lists and giving her a strong 188 points for the UKA challenge.


'I felt good all the way,' said a delighted Pidgeon. 'The pacemakers weren't entirely even-paced but their faster laps helped me to get away.


“I'm running the steeplechase this Saturday at Watford,' she said and looked down at the bad bruise she suffered in her last one at Loughborough where she hit the steeplechase barrier. 'It was badly bruised but I didn't do any damage there.'

Juliet Potter, (Charnwood) who came to life in the second half of the race, putting in a 71 seconds mid race lap to try and chase Pidgeon down was delighted to smash her PB to take second place with 9:11.68 (180 points). 'I'm surprised with that. I don't normally set PBs until the end of the season,' she enthused.


BUSA 1500m Champion Eleanor Baker (South London Harriers) held on for third and she too set a personal best with 9:15.28 (174 points), just ahead of a slightly disappointed Sian Edwards (9:16.36), who was still well inside the UKA standard for the IAAF World Juniors in Beijing.  Another exciting junior talent, Aldershot Farnham & District's Stephanie Twell (9:22.10) just missed out on the time.


Edwards said, 'It's frustrating to just miss my best but it was a good run and I'm now looking forward to the 5000m at Solihull.'

1 Emily Pidgeon (Gloucester) 9:06.87; 2 Juliet Potter (Charnwood) 9:11.68; 3 Eleanor Baker (South London H) 9:15.28; 4 Sian Edwards (Kettering) 9:16.36; 5 Claire Holme (Ipswich) 9:19.94; 6 Stephanie Twell (Aldershot Farnham & District); 7 Liz Muggeridge (Enfield & Haringay) 9:42.32; 8 Helena Tobin (Basingstoke & Mid Hants) 9:43.57.


The men's 3000m was won in style by Mark Warmby (Newham & Essex Beagles) with a great sub 8 minutes personal best.

The Kenyan pacemakers took them through a slightly slower than anticipated pace of just over 64 seconds a lap with the opening kilometre a fraction over 2:40. Warmby was always well placed with James Thie (Cardiff) and Michael Skinner (Blackheath & Bromley) also prominent as the steady even pace stretched the field. With two laps to go only Warmby, the hugely talented Moumin Geele (Newham & Essex Beagles) and Thie were able to stick with Leonard Kibet. On the final lap it was left to Warmby as the Kenyan dropped out and with a last lap of around 58 seconds he stretched his winning margin to almost 40 metres.


Warmby said afterwards:


'I had to keep chopping my stride. I had a terrible start and was back in 12th on the first lap but moved through and always felt good. I shouted to the pacemaker, 'Go, go,' on the last lap hoping he would go faster but he misunderstood and dropped out.”

“I felt awful in the British League 1500m at the weekend (he was 2nd in 3:48.06) but couldn't have felt better on that last lap.'

Warmby, who has a 8:38.25 PB for 3000 steeplechase and was fourth in last year's AAA Championships, says he now plans to focus on the 5,000m this year. He won the Loughborough International in 14:04.48. 'I've given up the steeplechase. I'm looking for a fast 5000m in Solihull and I'd like to run around 13:40,' said the 27 year-old who is clearly in the form of his life. The European Championships development standard set by UK Athletics is 13:42.00.


The 20 year-old Somalian-born Geele smashed his personal best in second with 8:03.82; his previous best being his 8:16.43 run from the AAA Indoor Championships. Chris Bolt (Aldershot Farnham & District), used his 800m speed to finish strongly for third and BUSA 5000m Champion Nick Talbot (Notts AC) also smashed his personal best. Meanwhile, James Thie set an outdoor PB for 3,000m but was outside his 7:56.22 indoor best. 


Result: 1 Mark Warmby (Newham & Essex Beagles) 7:57.41; 2 Moumin Geele (Newham & Essex Beagle) 8:03.82 ; 3 Chris Bolt (Aldershot Farnham & District) 8:04.53; 4 Nick Talbot (Notts AC) 8:05.30; 5 James Thie (Cardiff) 8:05.89; 6 Stephen Hepples (Newham & Essex Beagles) 8:08.12; 7 Michael Skinner (Blackheath & Bromley) 8:05.89; 8 Ben Moreau (Aldershot Farnham & District) 8:13.49


Amongst the highlights of the relay action was the UK Junior record for the 4 x 800m for an On Camp with Kelly team.


Hannah Brooks (2:09.4), Emily Goodall (2:11.1), Dani Christmas (2:11.7) and Hannah England (a superb 2:06.1) combined to stop the clock at 8:38.3 much to the delight of Kelly Holmes, as all the quartet were coming back from injury.

Other highlights from the young athletes races were James Senior U15 boys 800m winner in 1:58:28, Lucy Dowsett's assured front-running victory in the U17 women's 1500m (4:35.25) and Matt Bloy's sub -60 last lap in the Under 17 men's 1500 which gave him a PB 4:05.09.


The UK Challenge series provides British athletes just below that of international standard and aspiring athletes, with top-class competition throughout the summer and throughout the UK.


Altogether there are 48 events throughout the season to score points in culminating in the UK Challenge final at Manchester on the 27 August.