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UK Athletics

London-bound Liz wins again

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The prospect increases by the week of a high-class ‘Battle of Britain’ between Liz Yelling and Mara Yamauchi at the Flora London Marathon on 22 April.


Yelling completed a hat-trick of impressive victories by clocking a course record of 69:28 at the Bath Half Marathon on Sunday 25 March – her final race before she races London, where the elite home athletes will be aiming to impress the selectors of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for this summer’s IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan.


Yelling, who won the English National cross country title and the adidas half marathon at Silverstone motor race course in the previous two weekends, said of her blast around Bath: “I felt really strong. I thought the course record was a realistic target so I just set off – and the crowd support was awesome.”


She took 9 seconds off the record held by Jill Hunter (Blaydon Harriers) since the early 1990s, rose to fourth in the UK all-time half marathon rankings and set up the prospect of a great British battle in London against Yamauchi, whose half marathon best is 69:24.


The only two athletes ahead of them in the UK all-time half marathon rankings are past London winners Paula Radcliffe and Liz McColgan.


Dan Robinson (Stroud and District AC), who won the men’s marathon bronze medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, demonstrated his London preparations are going well by lowering his half marathon best to 63:42 at Reading. It knocked 16 seconds off his previous fastest, registered in Spain in December, and earned him second place in the Berkshire race, 6 seconds behind Simon Kasimili (Kenya).


The Reading women’s race was won by Louise Damen (Winchester and District AC) in her first attempt at the distance. Impressively, her time of 70:47 places her third in this year’s Power of 10 rankings behind Yelling and Yamauchi. Wendy Jones (Cirencester AC) was second in 72:48, taking her under the Power of 10 UK target for this year of 73:30.


Full Power of 10 stats can be found at http://www1.powerof10.info/


Meanwhile, of the ‘athletes of the future’ at the Sainsbury’s English Schools Cross Country Championships at Leeds on Saturday 24 March, UK Cross Challenge Under 17 Champion Heather Timmins (Warrington AC) completed an outstanding winter by adding the Senior Girls’ title to the UK Inter-Counties gold and English National silver medals she has won in the past month.


Timmins was defeated in the Under 17 Women’s race at the English National only by Charlotte Purdue (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC), who missed the English Schools to lead home the Norwich Union GB team – and Europe as a whole – at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kenya. Timmins (representing Cheshire) covered the 4350m course at Leeds in 15:57 to win by 12 seconds from Kirsty Hamilton (Devon) with Natasha Peters (Bedfordshire) third in 16:14. And the ‘Kenya connection’ did not stop there: in 11th place came Emma Reed (Avon), sister of Kate, who earned her place in the Worlds by winning the Senior Trial.


Other English Schools medallists… Senior Boys (6650m): 1 Mitch Goose (Norfolk) 21:52;, 2 Johnny Van Deventer (Surrey) 22:06; 3 James Wilkinson (West Yorkshire). Inter Boys (5350m): 1 Ross Murray (Northumberland) 17:36; 2 Jeremy Gilmour (Greater Manchester) 17:45; 3 James Robinson (Norfolk) 11:57. Inter Girls (3650m): 1 Laura Park (Cumberland) 12:34; 2 Kate Avery (Durham) 12:40; 3 Nicole Roberts (Northants) 12:48. Junior Boys (3650m): 1 Rikkie Letch (Surrey) 11:42; 2 Khalid Yusef (Essex) 11:55; 3 Danny Mills (Warwickshire) 11:57. Junior Girls (3350m): 1 Katie Holt (Staffs) 11:40; 2 Emelia Gorecka (Surrey) 11:58; 3 Camilla Freeman (Sussex) 12:01.


If you are aware of any more highlights this weekend that should be added to this report, please email the details to tfrecknall@hotmail.com