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BMC Nike GP Final/UKA Endurance Initiative Report & Results

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The chase for places in the endurance races at the UK Challenge Final at Manchester’s Sportcity on Sunday 27 August hotted-up despite chilly and strong winds at the BMC Nike Grand Prix Final and UKA Endurance Initiative races at the same venue on Saturday night, 12 August.

 

Jenny Blizzard (Rotherham Harriers) won the UKA Endurance Initiative 5000m in 16:09.61 – a 6 seconds improvement on her Norwich Union European Trials time at Watford last month – and took some quality ‘scalps’. Laura Kenney (Royal Sutton Coldfield) was second in 16:18.10, Freya Murray (Edinburgh Southern Harriers) third in 16:19.32 in her step up from the 1500m and UK Challenge 5000m standings leader Gemma Phillips (Kendal) fourth in 16:19.80, the fastest of her four 5000m races this year. While Phillips remains top of the Challenge table, Blizzard rises from 38th into the top 15 even though she has scored in only two races.

 

UKA Endurance Initiative 10,000m runner-up Gareth Raven (Sale Harriers Manchester) looks to have earned a place in the UK Challenge 5000m Final. Pacemaker Simon Arusei (Kenya) won in 29:33.39 but Raven’s time of 29:40.64 was 20 seconds quicker than at the NU European Trial. David Wardle (London Irish) was third in 29:42.95 and Matt Ashton (Aldershot, Farnham and District) fourth in 29:54.98. The Challenge 5000m rankings are handsomely led by Michael Skinner (Blackheath and Bromley), who opted for the 1500m tonight.

Luke Gunn (Derby AC) continued his late charge for a place in the Challenge 3000m steeplechase final by winning the UKA Endurance Initiative race in 8:48.59, the second-quickest of his three efforts in the series so far this summer. It left him well clear of Per Jacobsen (Sweden), second in 8:51.15, and Frank Tickner (Wells City Harriers), third in 8:52.68.

 

UK Challenge Women’s 800m leader Charlene Snelgrove (Wakefield and District Harriers) strengthened her grip on the standings. She won the A race in 2:04.64, her second-fastest time of the season to slot between her 2:03.10 (for 189 points) at the Norwich Union European Trials and 2:05.0 (for 170 points) in the UK Women’s League Division 2 match last weekend. Behind her, Alison Leonard (Chorley Harriers) moved a couple of places up the UK all-time Under 17 Women’s rankings when she clocked 2:06.74 for fifth place in the race – 1.26sec ahead of her keenest current rival in the age group, Sarah Hopkinson (Gloucester AC). Leonard is now 12th in the all-time rankings – two-hundredths of a second behind Jemma Simpson (Newquay and Par AC), who is one of the five UK Senior Women to have run sub-2 minutes this year.

 

Fascinatingly, this race featured two more of the athletes who figure high in those Under 17 all-time rankings. Katrina Wootton (Bedford and County AC) was second to Snelgrove in 2:05.02 and is sixth-fastest UK Under 17 ever with 2:05.87 at Watford four years ago. Rachael Thompson (Liverpool Harriers), seventh over the Sportcity line in 2:09.98 on this occasion, is 14th in the UK Under-17 rankings with 2:06.82 at Wythenshawe in 2002.

 

In the Men’s 800m A race, Chris Gowell (Swansea Harriers) did no harm to his hopes of reaching the UK Challenge Final by finishing second in 1:51.30, only a hundredth of a second behind winner Jason Stewart (New Zealand). Gowell, currently fifth in the UK Challenge standings, registered his third-fastest time of the series. Only six-hundredths of a second behind him, the reigning UK Challenge Champion Jimmy Watkins (Cardiff AAC) took a giant leap towards the final. Beginning the night in 15th place in the standings with 375 points from two races, he added 137 points to move deep into the leading eight and looks to be timing his effort pretty well perfectly.

 

Matt Barnes (Altrincham and District), who leads the Challenge 1500m standings, did his Final ambitions no harm by opting for the Men’s 1 mile A race. He clocked 4:05.07 for second place to New Zealander Paul Hamblyn, who clocked 4:04.60. And in third place in 4:05.29 came Michael Skinner (Blackheath and Bromley), who has a handsome advantage in the Challenge 5000m standings.

 

The 1500m A race was led by three athletes making late charges up the Challenge rankings. Gavin Massingham (Sunderland) won in 3:47.58, a mere hundredth ahead of Tom Carter (Vale Royal AC), whose previous two times in the Challenge have been considerably quicker. Bruce Raeside (Notts AC) took third place in 3:47.96, the quickest of his seven efforts in the Challenge.

 

In the Women’s 1500m, with UK Challenge leader Steph Twell on her way to the IAAF World Junior Championships in Beijing, her two nearest rivals closed the gap. Faye Fullerton (Havering Mayesbrook AC), who began the A race second in the Series on 619 points to Twell’s 662, clocked 4:18.66, her third-fastest time of the summer. It earned her third place in the race, which was won by Lauren Fleshman (USA) in 4:16.41 from Rachael Ogden (Worthing). Under 20 Jessica Sparke (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) clocked 4:19.44, also her third-fastest of the Series, to consolidate her third place overall.

Emma Pallant (Aldershot, Farnham and District), the Under 20 who currently lies fifth in the Challenge 1500m league table, won the BMC Frank Horwill Women’s Mile in 4:58.25 with Under 17 Blue Haywood (Lincoln Wellington) second in 5:10.05 and Sarah Barker (Sale Harriers Manchester) third in 5:14.67. The BMC Peter Coe Men’s Mile ended with three Under 20s on the podium: 1 Tom Marley (Bristol and West) 4:17.56; 2 Mike Tallis (IIF Group) 4:18.07; 3 Rick Ward (City of Norwich).

 

For the full results of the meeting, please go to http://www.britishmilersclub.com/results/2006/Manchester_12aug06.htm