Olympic marathoner Alyson Dixon is among winners, while Angela Copson breaks W70 best in London
It’s only in recent years that the British Masters Athletic Federation (BMAF) have recognised mile records on the road and it has taken a while for this event to reach the quality of other British Masters road championships. But this year at the Vitality Westminster Mile it surpassed it and was arguably one of the best masters road championships in history over any distance despite quite breezy conditions along Birdcage Walk in the crucial second half of the race.
In terms of numbers the women’s entry was disappointing with just 45 finishers but the quality was exceptional.
On an otherwise bad day for Sunderland, with their disappointment in the football, everything went to plan for Alyson Dixon (pictured above).
The Olympic marathoner has only recently shown her intentions of taking up ultra-running, and she has not run a 1500m or mile at this pace for a decade. Her expected 5:00 time looked very optimistic.
However, after going through the slightly downhill wind-assisted first 400m well inside 75 seconds in the company of last year’s first two Charlene Jacobs-Conradie and Clare Elms, she pushed on ahead and at the finish she won in 5:02 on gun time and 5:01 on chip and that gave her the British W40 title by around 40 metres.
She had no time to enjoy her victory as the very next race was the Olympians event and she rushed to the start half a mile away and there she ran 5:27 to be the leading woman.
Just as last year, Elms and W40 Jacobs-Conradie crossed the line together with both given the same 5:09 chip and 5:10 gun time with Elms getting the official verdict in second.
Elms’ time was significantly faster than the official world outdoor W55 record on the track of 5:17.37 by Silke Schmidt and easily a world best, though there are no official world master’s records away from the track but it was an official UK best, bettering Jane Clarke’s 5:38 by almost half a minute.
Elms run picked up 103.3% on age-grading but that was the not the highest of the race.
72-year-old Angela Copson scored an astonishing 107.2 per-cent as she ran 6:27 on chip and 6:30 on gun. That too bettered the world track record (6:38.30) by Sharon Gerl, was an unofficial world best and it decimated the previous UK road mark of Pat Gallagher (7:31) by a minute.
Other BMAF women’s winners were W35 Helen Southcott (5:54 gun, 5:51 chip) W45 Nikki Sturzaker (5:37, 5:36 chip), W50 Lisa Thomas (5:40, 5:38), W60 Anna Garnier (6:29, 6:27), W65 Ros Tabor (6:56, 6:59) and W75 Ann Gray (9:12. 9:09).
The latter is the mother of British Masters M40 and M45 record-holder Anthony Whiteman and he instead ran in the Olympians race which he won in a race record 5:00. Whiteman retired last year from competitive running but did a few sessions in preparation.
Had he run in the master’s mile that time would only have got him 36th position as around 200 men battled for medals.
The race started very fast but most runners paid for their indiscretion and it was M40 Craig Sharp who finished the fastest to win in 4:33 (chip 4:32).
Sharp’s daughter Chloe was second in the under-20 women’s mile.
The Central Park athlete finished just ahead of M35 Dave Williams (4:33), M40 Mick Hill (4:35, 4:34 chip) and M45 winner Simon Coombes in 4:37 (4:35).
Close behind came M50 winner Mark Symes. The world masters indoor and outdoor champion got the same times as Symes and that gave him a British M50 record to better Andrew Ridley’s 4:44.
The other British record-setter Nigel Gates has been setting records for 25 years and the M65 ran 5:20 (5:18 chip) to remove Pete Molloy’s 5:27 from the record books.
Runner-up Dave Bedwell, who set a M65 indoor record for the mile this winter, also beat the old record with a 5:25 (5:23).
Other age group winners were M55 Tony Tuohy 5:00 (4:58), M60 Paul Fletcher 5:12 (5:10), M70 Richard Bloom 6:44 (6:39), M75 Ken Chapman 8:07 (8:02), M80 Doug Milsom 7:58 (7:55) and M85 Richard Pitcairn-Knowles 10:58 (10:51).
Symes easily won the men’s age-graded award with 92.5% from Gates 91.9%.
Revised UK mile masters records
M35 James Thie 4:09 Cardiff 2014
M40 Anthony Whiteman 4:08 London 2015
M45 Anthony Whiteman 4:08 London 2017
M50 Mark Symes 4:37 London 2019 (4:35 chip)
M55 John Thomson 4:48 Markinch 2014
M60 Martin Rees 5:00 Cardiff 2014
M65 Nigel Gates 5:20 London 2019 (5:18 chip)
M70 Brian James 5:47 Ealing 2017
M75 Victor Shirley 6:16 Scunthorpe 2018
M80 Edmond Simpson 7:38 Cardiff 2017
M85 Eric Shirley 9:29 London 2016
W35 Helen Clitheroe 4:39 Newcastle 2010
W40 Helen Clitheroe 4:35 London 2014
W45 Clare Elms 5:00 Battersea 2010
W50 Clare Elms 5:16 London 2018 (5:13 chip)
W55 Clare Elms 5:10 London 2019 (5:09 chip)
W60 Breege Nordin 6:06 London 2016
W65 Ros Tabor 6:15 London 2015
W70 Angela Copson 6:30 London 2019 (6:27 chip)
W75 Anne Martin 7:39 Cardiff 2014
W80 Ruth Anderson 10:16 South Shields 2015
In the British Olympic race, behind Whiteman other athletes in the men’s race included Les Morton (6:03), Ray Smedley (6:48), Tom Buckner (6:53), Dave Long (7:02), Ian Richards (7:21), Rod Milne (7:49), Phil Brown (10:49) and Martin Reynolds (11:20).
The leading women were Dixon (5:27), Shireen Bailey (6:26), Jo Jennings (7:36), Donna Fraser (8:24), Stephanie Douglas (8:25), Joslyn Hoyte-Smith (10:48), Paula Dunn and Louise Fraser (13:55), Simone Jacobs and Lorna Boothe (14:09) and Wendy Hoyte (17:26).
AW publisher Wendy Sly ran a time of around eight minutes but was not in the official results.
Elite senior and junior race coverage can be found here.
» See the May 30 issue of AW magazine for further coverage