9th September 2023
UK TITLES AND WORLD SPOTS SECURED AT UK ROAD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Scott Beattie (coach: Mike Bateman, club: Morpeth), Callum Elson (Cambridge and Coleridge) and Verity Ockenden (Swansea) all secured UK titles at the inaugural UK 5km and One Mile Road Championships held at the Quayside in Newcastle / Gateshead, while also booking their spots at next month’s World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia.
Verity Ockenden (Swansea) ran a road 5km PB as she secured her place on the British team for the Riga as she took the women’s 5km UK title on the Quayside.
The Swansea athlete showed her intent from the very first lap as she put herself at the head of the field alongside Big Half winner, Calli Thackery (Hallamshire), and Eloise Walker (Trevor Painter, Edinburgh). They were joined by Ellie Wallace (Julian Emery, North Somerset) on the first lap, but the field was soon whittled down to three as they came into the finish area to enter lap two as the latter dropped off the pace.
Ockenden once again pushed on during her second trip around the Quayside, with Walker sticking close to her. As Thackery started to drop off the fast pace at the front, the European indoor 3000m bronze medallist – Ockenden – moved away from her Scottish opponent on the final lap as she gritted her teeth as she chased down the required UKA standard for the Championships in Riga.
As they came into the finish area for one last time, Ockenden clocked a time of 15:26 – inside the 15:40 qualifying standard – to take the UK title, while Walker held onto silver in a time of 15:34. Thackery took the bronze medal in a time of 15:44.
In the men’s 5km race, Scott Beattie inserted an incredible burst of acceleration in the closing stages to secure his place in Riga as he pulled away from Tom Mortimer (Chris and Sonia McGeorge, Stroud) and Rory Leonard (Morpeth) to take the UK title.
It required a late surge to disrupt the trio as they were inseparable for much of the contest. Local lads Beattie and Leonard were main protagonists in the race alongside Mortimer, with Jack Gray (Mark Vile, Cambridge and Coleridge) another in the field who had a share of the lead for long stages. As they entered the final lap, Gray was holding on by a fingernail and ultimately the trio of Mortimer, Beattie and Leonard moved away and looked guaranteed for the UK medals with over a kilometre and a half to go.
With 800m to go, Beattie made the decisive move that Mortimer could not respond to, running away to the UK title in a time of 13:56, with Mortimer holding on for silver in 14:00, while Leonard claimed the bronze in 14:03.
In the first race of the evening, Callum Elson (Cambridge and Coleridge) stole a march on James Gormley (John Wood, Sheffield & Dearne) in the final third of the race to claim the men’s one mile title.
Elson – who competed for GB & NI in the mixed relay team at both the World and European Cross Country Championships – qualified for the World Athletics Road Running Championships after a dominant display in the mile contest.
The Cambridge and Coleridge athlete moved away as they hit the millennium bridge and although Gormley looked to have gone with his breakaway and possibly threaten to take the title, it was Elson who had enough strength in the final sprint for the line to hold on to take the UK title in 4:08 ahead of Gormley, with Tom Dodd (Luke Dunn, Birchfield) given the same as the Sheffield and Dearne athlete 4:09 time for the bronze medal.