THOUSANDS of runners took to the streets of the English Capital on the weekend as the Virgin Money London Marathon returned in 2019. Ahead of the main 26.2 mile race, hundreds of the next generation were in Mini Marathon action featuring Team Wales.
The main 26.2 mile in its 39th edition and broadcasted on BBC Television again saw thousands of elite and novice runners take to the start line. There were many inspiring stories in amongst the 40,000 participants and all running for many different reasons including raising money for charities and organisations.
Beginning the programme of events saw the stars of the future take centre stage, following in the footsteps of their heroes including Mo Farah, Shelly Woods and David Weir. This important element of the day for the nine regions of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales along with all the London Boroughs, has been held in London every year since its launch in 1986.
The London Mini Marathon for 11 to 17 year-old children hosted a series of age group races covering the last 3 miles of the London Marathon route and featuring well over 200 participants in each of the races. Having started at London’s Old Billingsgate, they took in one of the London Marathon’s most famous stretches before they ran across the iconic finish line on the Mall.
The under 17 boys first battled through to the finish line before the under 13 boys, under 15 boys, under 13 girls, under 15 girls and under 17 girls followed shortly afterwards as the elite and fun runners began on their journeys on the other side of London. In addition, Wheelchair races for under 14 and under 17 boys and girls were on offer too.
Described as one of the warmest events on record reaching over 20 degrees Celsius, conditions were near perfect this year with plenty of cloud overhead and temperatures relatively cool for running.
This was the second International fixture in the space of five weeks after Welsh Schools distance runners travelled over the Irish Sea over to Dublin for the 2019 SIAB Schools Cross Country International at the end of March. The annual match featured the best athletes from Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland and many of these athletes in action on the cross country course descended on London to represent their country on the road.
Welsh Athletics took over the responsibilities of the Mini Marathon selection in 2019 from Welsh Schools who had taken teams to this prestigious event for sixteen years. It provided an opportunity for young athletes from Wales to test themselves against the best in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, competing against the other Celtic nations, the powerful English regions and athletes from 33 of the London boroughs.
A new selection process was in place this year here in Wales as each of the four regions in Wales held time trial events during the month of January over 3000m. The winners from the South, East, West and North events at Newport, Carmarthen and Deeside were guaranteed a selection spot automatically whilst the final two spots to make up a team of six were decided on the fastest times across the under 13, under 15 and under 17 age groups.
Whilst now a familiar challenge for many of the top end club runners, for others it provided an opportunity to gain experience and learn about both the event and the road racing discipline. This came into action in particular for many of Wales under 13 athletes who were wearing the red vest of Wales for the first time.
The team of thirty-five were supported by a management team of six led by Steve Jones (WSAA) and newly appointed Welsh Athletics Endurance Development Coordinator Liz Davies (Cardiff Athletics). The duo was teamed up with Delyth Brown (Carmarthen Harriers) Darryn McAtee (Newport Harriers), John Messum (Deeeside AC) and Neil Edwards (Deeside AC) to offer assistance and advice.
The full squad and their team managers travelled up on Saturday morning starting at Carmarthen and picking up in Swansea, Bridgend, Cardiff and Newport. Met by their North and Mid Wales teammates later on in the day and following an overnight stay at the Royal Holloway College, the team continued into the English Capital early on Sunday morning ahead of the races.
In the team competition (4 to score), the best scoring Welsh team came from the under 17 boys for a successive year, who came in 4th place just as they did in 2018. Meanwhile, other positions recorded in the other races were ninth, two tenth, eleventh and a twelfth. Welsh Athletics Team 2019 – Catch Up on Results in Full By Age Group and Team:
UNDER 13 BOYS / BECHGYN O DAN 13: (eleventh 193pts)
28 Callum Morgan Maldwyn Harriers (17:04), 52 Leo Stark Newport Harriers (18:01), 56 Zach Elvy Carmarthen Harriers (18:14), 57 Elis Finlayson Cardiff Athletics (18:14), 60 Loui Camilleri Cardiff Archers (18:45), 66 Jack Thomas Carmarthen Harriers (19:31)
UNDER 13 GIRLS / MERCHED O DAN 13: (tenth 155pts)
29 Bethan Hardman Cardiff Archers (18:54), 35 Sophie Knoyle Cardiff Archers (19:03), 45 Anna Brooks Cardiff Archers (19:22), 46 Ceri Griffiths Newport Harriers (19:22), 47 Mai Davies Swansea Harriers (19:22), 60 Eden Edwards Desside AC (20:04)
UNDER 15 BOYS / BECHGYN O DAN 15: (tenth 162pts)
27 Adam Beer Llanelli AC (15:53), 38 Jacob Reynolds Cardiff Athletics (16:07), 46 Liam Edwards Carmarthen Harriers (16:23), 51 Dafydd Jones Carmarthen Harriers (16:28), 57 Oliver Jones Maldwyn Harriers (16:38), 66 Elur Urkola Newport Harriers (17:27)
UNDER 15 GIRLS / MERCHED O DAN 15: (ninth 136pts)
12 Samia Jones Menai Track & Field (17:33), 17 Moli Lyons Cardiff Athletics (17:38), 44 Sophie Evans Cardiff Athletics (18:27), 63 Gwenno Goode Cardiff Archers (19:15), 68 Daisy Thompson Swansea Harriers (19:52)
UNDER 17 BOYS / BECHGYN O DAN 17: (fourth 82pts)
4 Osian Perrin Menai Track & Field (14:32), 9 James Penrose Cardiff Archers (14:48), 18 Ben Reynolds Cardiff Athletics (14:53), 51 Sebastian Lewis Neath Harriers (15:32), 64 Tomos Land Colwyn Bay (16:04), 71 David Locke Cardiff Athletics (16:48)
UNDER 17 GIRLS / MERCHED O DAN 17: (twelfth 183pts)
37 Mia Roberts Deeside AC (18:01), 45 Ashleigh Willis Swansea Harriers (18:19), 49 Aimee Callow Cardiff Archers (18:29), 58 Nia Clatworthy Cardiff Athletics (18:53), 65 Orla Davies Deeside AC (19:43), 67 Tiegan Ward Brecon AC (20:19)
Report and Pics: Nathan Jones