Alex George sprints to Mini Marathon victory in London

South West runner wins U17 men’s title as wheelchair racer Jade Jones storms to course record victory at the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon

Alex George (Mark Shearman)

As holder of the previous Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon under-17 women’s wheelchair course record, great things were expected from Jade Jones at this year’s event. The Tanni Grey-Thompson-coached athlete didn’t disappoint, even finishing ahead of under-17 men’s winner Will Smith to take the 2013 title.

The 17-year-old New Marske athlete crossed the line in 12:39, taking 20 seconds off her course record to secure her fourth victory in the event.

Jones, who recently won the senior women’s race at the Silverstone adidas half-marathon and competed over 400m, 800m and 1500m at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, was followed home by Scotland’s Sammi Kinghorn, who only took up the sport less than 18 months ago, and Lauren Rowles.

“It was such a good race, it was really hard at first,” said Jones. “It’s been such a good year and it’s only just starting. There’s lots of meets coming up so I’m really excited to see how it goes.” This will be Jones’ final year as a Mini London Marathoner and she explained she’s still undecided as to whether or not she will move up to the senior event next year.

Although David Weir was denied a record seventh senior London Marathon victory on Sunday, there was win for Will Smith, who is trained by the six-time Paralympic champion, in the Mini London Marathon.

Although finishing just behind women’s winner Jones, 12:41 was more than enough to secure him the under-17 men’s wheelchair title. Previous holder of the under-14 boy’s course record Jack Binstead finished second, with Ben Rowlings third.

Impressively, Jones wasn’t alone in her record-breaking feat, as in the under-14 races defending champion Charlotte Moore smashed her previous course record with 14:33, finishing ahead of Kare Adenegan and Catherine Stott. In the boys’ race, Isaac Towers’ 13:22 was also a course record and secured him victory ahead of Graham Spencer and Daniel May.

The wheelchair events kicked off an exciting morning of racing which saw athletes from across the UK compete in what has become one of the biggest events for teenage distance runners and the official UKA road race championships for young athletes.

First held in 1986, more than 2000 athletes run over the last three miles of the marathon course, starting at Old Billingsgate and finishing under the London Marathon gantry in The Mall.

Inter-Counties champion Jac Hopkins was one of the favourites going into the under-17 men’s race, but a trip at around the two-mile mark took him out of the running for the 2013 title. After a close sprint-finish, Alex George (South West) finished in 14:34 for the win ahead of Zak Miller (North West) and Liam Dee (East), and he later admitted that the race would almost certainly have turned out very differently had Hopkins not suffered a fall.

“Jac tripped at about two miles, he looked like he was in a bit of trouble and someone went across him and just took him out,” said George, pictured above. “I reckon it would have been a completely different race if he was there because he wouldn’t have let it get that slow.

“He hit the ground pretty hard which is a bit of a shame because he’s had a class season. I would have loved to have raced him in the last couple of hundred metres to see what I had against him.”

Just two seconds separated the three runners, with George and Miller both recording the same time. North West won the team title.

In the under-15 boy’s race there was a win for first-time Mini London Marathoner Jamal Lewis (East). English Schools winner Ben Dijkstra (East Midlands) finished three seconds behind him, crossing the line in 15:08 to lead his team to the title, while London’s Alex Yee finished third, his result also securing him first spot in the Borough Challenges event for Lewisham.

Ben Hooper also made the most of his debut at the event by winning the under-13 boys’ race in 16:27, leading a South East one-two for the team title. Having only started training in August, he now hopes to make an impact on the track in either the 800m or 1500m. Team-mate Thomas Kendrick was second and John Howorth (North West) third.

Having continued to make their mark on the cross country scene this winter, the Clay sisters – Alex and Bobby (South East), who were both part of Britain’s bronze medal-winning junior team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Poland in March – were in action in London, making a rare venture into the world of road running.

Both competing in the under-17 women’s race, younger sister Bobby, who moved up to the older race category this year, made up for the disappointment of finishing runner-up to Annabel Mason (Yorkshire & Humberside) in the 2012 edition of the under-15 race by finishing four seconds ahead of the National cross champion in 16:24. Mason’s team-mate, Bronwen Owen, pipped the elder Clay sister into fourth place with Yorkshire & Humberside taking the team title.

Speaking after the race, Bobby explained: “I’m really pleased because last year the race went pretty much the same but with about a mile and a bit to go Annabel surged past me and I tried to go but I had no response.

“It was quite demoralising because I’d worked so hard the whole way and just lost it. Today I ended up in the lead of the pack, when rather I would have liked to have been at the back of the pack, but thought I can’t let that happen again!”

The under-15 field was led by Inter-Counties champion Harriet Knowles-Jones (North West) and after what she described as a “really aggressive start” she soon found her place and pushed on to take the win in 16:47, comfortably ahead of Scotland’s Gillian Black and team-mate Rosie Johnson. She also led North West to the team title.

In the under-13 event, English cross-country champion Katy-Ann McDonald, who only took up athletics seriously last July, led London to the team title with her win in 17:24, 12 seconds ahead of Emily Gray (North West). Jordon Waine (East Midlands) was third.

In the Borough Challenges, Lydia Hallam (Havering) won the under-17 women’s race, Wandsworth won the team title. Sabrina Sinha (Greenwich) added to her under-13 victories in recent years with a win in the under-15 race and Bromley won the team title, while Katy-Ann McDonald (Wandsworth) won the under-13 event to lead her team to the team title too.

Jamie Finnigan (Hounslow) won the oldest boys’ race as Barnet won the team title, Alex Yee (Lewisham) won the under-15 event as Haringey secured top spot in the team standings and George Groom won the under-13s as Wandsworth secured a third team title.

» Read the senior women’s race report here and the senior men’s report here. Find full in-depth coverage in next week’s AW, out Thursday April 25.

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