British Milers’ Club hopes to hold 800m, 1500m and 3000m races in “a more normal style of racing” from August
A new 15-minute contact window rule could allow a more traditional style of middle-distance racing to return in England from August.
In guidance released by England Athletics on Friday, the governing body said that races of 3000m upwards and steeplechase events “cannot be run”, however Martin Rush, head of coaching and athlete development, has since confirmed to AW that England Athletics is working on a middle-distance update.
Included in its 46-page document giving guidance on a return to restricted track and field competition ‘in a Covid-19 secure setting’, England Athletics said athletes in 800m races must remain in their lane the whole way and that social distancing must also be maintained in the 1500m, however in a statement released by the British Milers’ Club (BMC) on Sunday it appears that the governing body is seeking further flexibility.
In its announcement on Sunday, the BMC confirmed plans for fixtures at Lee Valley on August 5 and Trafford on August 11, following on from the organisation’s already-announced meeting in Trafford on July 25, with that first fixture featuring 800m races to be run completely in lanes.
The BMC hopes that the August 11 meeting will be able to offer 800m, 1500m and 3000m races.
“England Athletics will be seeking agreement that races can operate under the restriction of contacts being limited to 15 minutes,” said the BMC.
“This will allow a more normal style of racing in 800m, 1500m, and 3000m.
“To make this work, venues must be Covid secure with all appropriate cleaning, social distancing, and registration of attendance in place.
“Races will be operated as bubbles maintaining social distance from competitors in other races. Numbers in each race will be limited.”
In the document published on Friday, England Athletics said that athletes should be “in every other lane or with two bend staggers” for 800m races where athletes are required to remain in their own lane but the governing body has since told AW that the guidelines will be updated to confirm that “it should either be four bend staggers or just run in every other lane with appropriate staggers”.
The full BMC statement regarding the organisation’s season plans and logistics can be found here.
The release of England Athletics’ latest documents has prompted much discussion on social media and British Olympian Tom Farrell took to Twitter to outline how a meeting in Portland, USA, had been possible.
“We were part of a meet last night that had races from 600m-3000m and a mixed relay,” he wrote. “Athletes needed two negative tests in the week prior to the meet, any other personnel required one negative test in the week prior. Athletes raced as normal (yes in lane one).
“If you weren’t warming up, racing or cooling down, masks were worn at all times by everyone,” he added. “No fans. No one, besides the people required, knew about the meet.
“It was safe. It was a success. It can be done with the right processes and procedure in place.”
» This post was updated on July 22 to reflect a change in the British Milers’ Club statement regarding race distances