Championship pedigree shines through in Mini London Marathon
A host of promising young athletes displayed their potential in the 2019 Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon on Sunday morning.
The event, which doubles up as the British Athletics Three-mile Road Running Championships, takes place over the last three miles of the Virgin Money London Marathon course before the stars of distance running and the masses tackle the 26.2-mile challenge.
And there were plenty of young athletes on the Start Line at Old Billingsgate who are aiming to follow in the footsteps of previous Mini London Marathon winners like Sir Mo Farah and David Weir.
Ben Peck, the National Cross Country and Inter Counties Cross Country champion, maintained his form in the Under-13 boys’ race with victory in a time of 16:05, narrowly defeating Henry Dover and William Rabjohns, who both finished in 16:09.
Another Inter Counties Cross Country champion, Ruby Vinton (17:14), picked up the win in the Under-13 girls’ race over Isabelle Martin (17:20) and Jessica Bailey (17:31).
“I’m absolutely speechless,” said Vinton. “I wasn’t aiming for a particular time and I was looking to come in the top five, so I’m just extremely happy.”
Henry McLuckie, who came third in the National Cross Country Championships in February this year, improved on his previous two finishes at the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon with victory in the Under-17 boys’ race. McLuckie (14:25) held off competition in the closing stages from Matthew Mackay (14:29) and Charlie Brisley (14:31).
“I saw someone else coming up behind me so I had to push hard down The Mall,” he said.
“It went exactly the way I wanted to execute it.”
Charlotte Alexander, a winner at the Mini London Marathon in 2017, reclaimed her title in the Under-17 girls’ race. She finished in 16:36 to beat Bedfordshire Cross Country champion Tia Wilson (16:45) and last year’s Under-17 winner Cera Gemmell of Scotland (16:51).
The Under-15s event saw close-run races in both the boys and girls categories. London’s Thomas Archer, who said afterwards he would have been happy with a top-15 finish, finished in 15:09 to edge out Ethan McGlen (15:11) and Mukhtar Musa (15:13) in the boys’ race.
In the girls’ Under-15 race, it was last year’s champion Bea Wood (16:35) who again came out on top ahead of Holly Weedall (16:40) and Scotland’s Anna Hedley (16:56).
Wood said afterwards: “I was desperate to win because I won last year. I’m feeling great.”
The fastest time of the day was recorded by Zien Zhou, who defended his title in the Under-17 boys’ Wheelchair Mini London Marathon. Zhou’s time of 12:55 saw him finish more than a minute in front of Sean McCullagh (14:16) and Andrew Greer (14:20). Toby Sweeney-Croft was the victor in the Under-14 boys’ wheelchair race thanks to his time of 17:36, ahead of Jack Gower (18:42) and Varun Bandi (19:51).
In the girls’ wheelchair races, which have been dominated by Great British Paralympian Kare Adenegan in recent years, last year’s Under-14 champion Merle Menje won the Under-17 race, finishing one minute ahead of Shauna Bocquet (15:09). Neve Allen (19:31) improved on her third-place finish in the Under-14 race to take the win over Chloe Lewis (19:41) and Anya Waugh (21:06).
“I knew that I could do better than last year,” Menje said. “My next target is to qualify for the World Para Athletics Junior Championships, which are in Switzerland in August.”
In the ambulant category, Oliver Scott won the Under-14 boys’ race in a time of 17:53, then set his sights on repeating the feats of Sir Mo Farah, who won the race three times between 1998 and 2000 and finished fifth in today’s Virgin Money London Marathon.
“Mo Farah is my inspiration,” he said. “I want to be the next Mo Farah but with one arm. He’s got the Mo-Bot, and I’ve got my O-Bot.”