Athletes race for British mile titles on sunny day in London

The overnight storms turned into a glorious sunny day at Sunday’s Vitality Westminster Mile which incorporated British Championships events in what was surely the best road mile event ever held in Britain and was the biggest in the world.

There was hope in the year of Roger Bannister’s passing that the men’s race could see the event’s first sub-4:00 but the top runners ignored the pacemaker and it became a tactical affair.

Former winner Chris O’Hare made a move in the last 400m but he said it was just to make others go early. Commonwealth 1500m bronze medalist Jake Wightman powered clear but he was unable to hold the pace – feeling tired having just come down from altitude – and he faded to fifth in the final short straight.

O’Hare, who was injured at the World Indoors and not fully fit at the Commonwealths, had the strongest kick and he won in 4:04 just ahead of Charlie Da’Vall Grice who got the same time.

800m specialist Elliot Giles again showed his potential at longer events with third in 4:05 just ahead of Zak Seddon who confirmed his recent steeplechase breakthrough in fourth.

The women’s race was also very tight with Commonwealth bronze medallist Melissa Courtney winning an exciting race in 4:35 just ahead of Sarah McDonald in 4:36.

Melissa Courtney Westminster Mile 2018 by Mark Shearman

Third place went to steeplechaser Rosie Clarke in 4:38 with 2011 world medallist Hannah England fourth in 4:42.

The wheelchair races were won by six-time Paralympic champion David Weir and Nikki Emerson in 3:11 and 3:58 respectively.

While the senior mile races took the headlines there were also some high-quality junior British Championships races.

Josh Allen won the under-20 men’s event, using his 1:50 800m speed to win in 4:26 just ahead of Joss Barber.

Even more impressive was Thomas Keen who followed up his European Youth qualifiers at 1500m and 3000m with a clear under-17 win in 4:15.

Ethan Hussey, who had previously won the under-11 race, won the under-15 race in style in 4:25.

Steeplechaser Emily Moyes won the under-20 women’s race in 5:03, while Elsa Palmer won the under-17 race in 5:09.

Ava White led a Blackheath and Bromley Harrier’s top four as she won the under-15 race in 5:05, with Zakia Mossi sharing the winning time.

The under-13 titles were won by Katie Price in 5:14 and Roman Hodgson in 4:55, while the under-11 non-championship races within the under-13 events were won by Patrick Atkinson in 5:26 and Lily Stack in 5:31.

Apart from the juniors the event also featured the British Masters Championships for the first time.

This was won by Joe Ashley, who broke clear after passing halfway in around 2:13 for his biggest ever win. He won in a net time of 4:33 with other age group winners M40 Craig Sharp in 4:37, M45 Mark Symes in 4:38, M50 Adrian Haines in 4:47, M55 Chris Ireland in 4:58, M60 Kevin Archer in 5:31, M65 Derek Jackson in 5:26, M70 Paul Casey in 5:57.

The women’s race was narrowly won by W35 Charlene Jacobs-Conradie in 5:12 from W50 winner Clare Elms who ran 5:13.

Other age group winners included W40 Jo Locker who ran 5:35, Rebecca Selvey who won the W45 in 5:51, Jane Clarke the W55 race in 5:42, Jenny Wakeman won the W60 race in 6:12 and Yuko Gordon the W65 in 6:33 and Anne Docker the W70 in 7:25.

Altogether 8048 took part in the day’s events which were all run on a mile circuit starting on The Mall and finishing just in front of Buckingham Palace.

This meant it overhauled New York’s 2017 event as the world’s biggest mass participation mile event.

1984 Olympic steeplechaser Eddie Wedderburn won the Olympians’ race in which IAAF president Seb Coe finished around six minutes alongside Anthony Whiteman, who was using it as a warm up for the elite men’s mile.

GB Olympians Westminster Mile 2018 by Mark Shearman

Mo Farah was the starter for the 12 family races and jogged around in the final wave in just over six minutes.

There was a mascot race won by Bee Active of Everyone Active which claimed him a £1000 prize.

Among the more unusual records, Dani Nimmock and Mark Burgess ran the fastest mile holding hands in 5:24.

» See the next issue of AW magazine for more