London Mini Marathon Trials for West Midlands Team.
Report – Paul Hawkins.
On the same day as the Virgin Money London Marathon a mini marathon is held over the last three miles of the marathon course and each region of the country sends a team of six boys and girls in the under 13, under 15 and under 17 age groups. Over the years many of Britain’s leading endurance runners have featured in these races.
The trials for the West Midlands team were held on Saturday at the cycle track at Stourport Sports Club over an undulating three-mile course and some of Stratford AC’s junior endurance runners took the opportunity to race on a firmer surface than the mud they’ve been experiencing lately.
They knew that the first five in each race were guaranteed a place in London, with one other place available in the teams of six.
To add to the challenge Storm Denis was at it’s height during the races, making the conditions particularly difficult.
In the first race, for the under 13’s, the boys and girls set off together with Stratford’s Maddie Linfoot starting quickly and held a top six position throughout the race. In the final 150m Maddie challenged Megan White from Wolverhampton, her rival for fifth place, but just missed out finishing 6th in 19:06 which was a full 56 seconds quicker than in 2019 when she was in 4th place.
Close behind in 8th place was Niamh Hillard with a fast time of 19:59 on her road running debut. Niamh commented afterwards that she found racing on the harder surface difficult.
Joe Lewis was also making his road debut and will be pleased with his time of 20:34 in 21st place in the boy’s race and will have another year in this age group to progress.
There were two Stratford athletes in the Under 15 race but unfortunately Adam Taylor had to pull out after 3000m with an injury after running well and being in a good position.
Alex Adams won the U13 race in 2019 so it was interesting to see his progress into the older age group. Within the first 1200m it became apparent that there would only be two runners in contention, with Alex and Will Singleton from Shrewsbury neck and neck. Singleton, the older runner, showed greater strength in the final 1000m and pulled away but Alex had a fine run in second place with a time of 16:15, almost a minute quicker than last year.
In the final race for under 17’s, Georgie Campbell was looking to carry her form over cross country to the road surface. Once again this soon became a two-person race with Georgie and regular rival Ella Semple of Birchfield pulling away. Campbell continued to push the pace and by half way opened up a gap which she continued to extend for the rest of the race to win by 33 seconds in 17:18. Campbell has now qualified for the fourth consecutive year.
Ellen Taylor continued her return to form running a fine 9th place in 20:18.
The final Stratford athlete was under 17 Ned Campbell who, unusually, was in the same race as his sister and ran a consistent race to come 16th in 18:49.
So Alex Adams, Georgie Campbell and Maddie Linfootl will now be looking forward to racing in London, with the club having 3 representatives in the West Midland team.