WRITTEN FOR ATHLETICS WEEKLY MAGAZINE
Kicking off the days’ proceedings in impressive style, a trio of talented wheelchair racers graced the Tyneside for the junior race. With only two male and one female entrant contesting the one-mile event, victory went to 14-year-old Will Smith from Norwich.
Racing in the T54 category, Smith – the World junior silver medallist for the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m sped to a 3:46 clocking after failing to dip under the four-minute barrier last year.
The second boy unfortunately crashed and failed to finish after colliding with a barrier, coming off the Millennium Bridge into the finishing straight. Such an incident will hopefully force the organisers to re-think the tightness of the race-gantry around corners for the chair racers in future.
Middlesborough’s Jade Jones, the prodigious 14-year-old World junior champion for distances ranging from the 100m right up to the 1500m also in the T54 class, clocked an impressive 4:11 to mix it with the boys the day after taking the Tyne Tunnel 2km dash.
Mini and Junior Run
Hundreds of wide-eyed children embarked on the Newcastle-Gateshead quayside for the Bupa mini and junior runs, as the ‘Toon army’s’ ran the entire way before beaming, cheering and even dancing their way across the finish line with – for the mini run competitors - their adult companions for company and motivation.
Standing up to its tag of Britain’s biggest running event for children, over 5,000 participants between the ages of three and sixteen years covered the mile-long course to huge applause from the crowds.
The 2010 Bupa Junior and Mini Great North Runs featured three different categories for youngsters of all abilities and attracted a record field with over 5,000 children, many of whom were also raising much-needed funds for good causes, including the 2010 official charity, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
Also present were characters from the popular CBeebies programme ZingZillas, who started the Bupa Mini Great North Run and performed a song written especially for the event.
Other TV characters as well as Great North Run legends Liz McColgan and Sonia O’Sullivan started the following waves and the children of the famous Scottish and Irishwoman also took part.
The Bupa Mini Great North Run for girls and boys saw children aged from three to eight years participate and was staged over a one-mile course along the Quayside. Impressively, each of the three starting waves boasted around 800 young runners.
The three girls’ waves contests were taken by Caitlin Llewellyn from Chester le Street, Chloe Davies from Cramlington and Jenna Laine Roberts from Cannock, respectively.
The boys’ winners meanwhile, were James Salt from Penrith, Daniel Buffham from Newcastle upon Tyne and James Garraghan from Peterlee.
Following the Bupa Great CityGames elite events, was the Bupa Junior Great North Run, which was divided into two age categories – for boys and girls aged 9 to 11 and for boys and girls aged 12 to 16 – both racing over a distance of three-miles.
The female winner of three-mile event in the 9-11 year contest was 11-year-old Olivia Bateman of Birtley Athletics Club (19:25), who only began racing in May from Rhain Purves of Gosforth Harriers & AC (19:36) and third-placed Eleanor Twite from Sale Harriers Manchester (19:37).
The boys race was won by Markhim Lonsdale of Gateshead Harriers & AC, also 11 years of age and the North Eastern counties champion over 100m, 800m, 1500m and long-jump (17:08) from Charlie Lowrie of Wharfedale Harriers (17:49) and Alfie Manthorpe (City of Sheffield AC) in 18:02.
Scarborough’s sixteen-year-old North Yorkshire schools cross-country champion Joshua Schofield was an impressive winner of the three-mile event in the 12-16 category, coming home in 15:09 from Shaun Barras (Jarrow & Hebburn AC, 15:14) and Liam James Ayton of Durham City Harriers & AC in 15:30.
Birtley AC’s 13-year-old North of England cross-country silver-medallist Lydia Turner was a class apart in the girls 12-16 category, winning in 17:27 from Mollie Williams of Stockport Harriers & AC (17:40) and City of York AC’s Katy Wood (17:43).
All mini and junior runners received an event t-shirt, medal and finisher’s pack and the junior runners were chip-timed to give an accurate finishing time to enable them to see their official clocking published on the Bupa Great Run website.
Women’s 100m Hurdles
Olympic and World champion Sally Pearson was, as expected, a class apart in this, her specialist event in a comfortable 12.85 clocking.
Fresh from her recent victory in the IAAF /VTB Continental Cup, Pearson gave herself the perfect early birthday gift ahead of her 24th the following day by clinching the win by over six-tenths of a second from England’s Angelita Broadbelt-Blake (13.49).
Coming over to the UK from her training base in Cologne four days beforehand, the hot contender for the gold medal London 2012 has been a revelation this summer after returning from an eight-month injury lay-off to register 12.57.
“The hurdles were a bit slow but considering the competition and the track, I’m happy I got the point,” Pearson explained.
“All of my mum’s side from Kent are here to cheer me on – but no, I’m staying put to compete in Australia. Usually I get a PB every year so I want to keep doing that and going in (to the Commonwealth’s) as favourite, I want to do really well.”
Broadbelt-Blake endured a long train journey up from London the night before in a last-minute call-up and after a week-long celebration for her 25th birthday, is shortly set to jet off across the Pond to live in Florida with new coach Dennis Mitchell.
The New York-born sprint-hurdler and UK silver-medallist revealed: “I leave for Orlando next month so I’m really looking forward to that - a different group, environment and weather. My plan’s to stay healthy so there’s going to be greater things for me next year I’m sure.”
The long-term partner of Jamaica-based British 100m man Simeon Williamson,Broadbelt-Blake continued: “I haven’t put down any kind of training in for the past three weeks as I was on my break so this was unexpected. I only committed to coming two days ago so I’m really happy with that. The journey was very draining but I knew once I got here, the crowd would be good and they were awesome. They made me run fast.”
After an injury-ravaged 2010 campaign, 26-year-old Gemma Bennett finished third in a disappointing 13.64.
Australian under23 record-holder Shannon McCann failed to finish.
UK 1500m champion Hannah England retained her one-mile title in exhilarating fashion, proving her late-season form and trademark scintillating finishing-kick are back to their best, following recent injury woes.
The 23-year-old sped to a 4:38 victory ahead of 36-year-old Helen Clitheroe in an exhilarating race in which England, tenth in the recent European championships, decisively scorched away in the final 150m to annihilate her 4:49 2009 winning time ahead of Australia’s Erica Fountain (4:45) and team-mate Jenny Meadows (4:51) in third and fifth, respectively.
Heading to New York for the Fifth Avenue road mile next week before attending the Commonwealth preparation camp in Doha, England explained: “It went really well, I felt really strong and the head to head with Helen was really great - it was nice to come out on top again.
We ran to 800m quite fast but then lost a bit of time on the hilly sections but I was pleased I could kick in at the end. I had a few physical problems out in Barcelona which were mentally very hard to get over and I let it get on top of me. So I’ve re-built the base and come back stronger.”
Set for her fourth Commonwealth appearance, Clitheroe divulged: “The wind during the first part of the race was really tough so we gritted our teeth before the real race started on the climb - I’m happy to run in such a fantastic event and atmosphere. I would have liked to have won but it was still great, it shows that my flat speed’s where it needs to be.”
Meadows, the World indoor and outdoor 800m medallist, was gracious in defeat after a solid piece of over-distance work.
Pearson continued her impressive display by upstaging the flat sprint specialists with another comfortable 16.86 victory to Laura Turner’s 17.07.
With a season’s best of 11.39 for 100m and a 200m personal best of 23.19, Pearson was always going to be recognised as a threat but it was the ease at which she took the win which may have surprised her rivals.
“This is a big birthday present,” Pearson exclaimed, “I was really nervous but I did my job for Australia and I’m really happy. I’m still working on a few things so I hope to come out on top and get faster in Delhi. We’re staying here for another eleven days for our camp then we head off to Delhi on the 29th.”
Barcelona 100m semi-finalist Turner lead the home charge and in a season where the 28-year-old has registered an impressive 11.11 for the 100m, Turner is hoping to capitalise on her in-form speed in Delhi:
“It was ok, the first 50m was pretty ropey but I felt really strong towards the end, which is promising for Delhi but I really need to sort out my first 50m if I want to do well there, Turner explained.
“I want to win every race I run but in Delhi it will be hard so I’ll try my best. I’m off to Doha next week to prepare early and sharpen up in the sun to get ready. I hope to run another couple of 11.1’s,/11.2’s to be more consistent.”
Struggling with injuries since returning from knee surgery in the winter, 24-year-old British record-holder for the 100m Montell Douglas came home in fourth (17.85) just behind Australian Jody Henry (17.51).
City of Plymouth’s Katherine Endacott took a surprise 11.47 victory in the guest 100m from fellow Brit Joice Maduaka and Australia’s Melissa Breen.
With a 11.46 lifetime best from Crystal Palace last month, the mother of one is in fine form at the right time going into the Commonwealth 100m in a fortnights’ time and took many positives away from her good days’ work:
“It was good, I executed my start well and I’ve been practicing on my start and drive phase a lot,” Endacott explained.
Looking trim and ready to race, the 30-year-old continued: “I’ve had five years out after having my little girl and this year’s been my first year back so for me, I’ve done really, really well. I wouldn’t have believed at the start of the year I’d be going to the Commonwealth’s and I’m coming into good form, ready to nail it.”
Maduaka meanwhile clocked 11.56 to come close to her 11.62 season’s best and bound for Delhi in the 200m, the 36-year-old Woodford Green with Essex Ladies athlete is rounding into solid shape for her Commonwealth debut in India.
In third, Australian 100m champion Breen was relatively happy with her 11.62 performance after celebrating her 20th birthday the evening before and Sale’s 400m specialist Victoria Barr closed the field with 11.11 for fourth – a huge improvement on her 11.90 personal best set earlier in the year.