• James Davis

12 Months of BUAC - September

British Championships were naturally the most important part of the month, but that did not stop September from having plenty of other highlights.


BUACers raced abroad, and set plenty of personal bests to finish the year impressively, cementing outstanding UK and world rankings.


4th

British Outdoor Championships Day 1

With no better way to start the month, the fourth and the fifth of September had the long-awaited British Championships. With incoming freshers, current students, and past grads all in action, there was almost non-stop BUAC activity throughout the weekend.


With alumna Hannah England in the commentary booth for much of the weekend, watching the championships was as much an auditory BUAC experience as a visual one, with sixteen performances on the first day from Birmingham athletes.

Keen racing 400 over barriers back in Birmingham

Mark Cottam and Rory Keen raced in the first heat of the 400 metres. Sale Harriers man Keen was fifth home in 48.39, while former track captain Cottam's 48.62 had him seventh. Over the same distance, but with barriers this time, alum Chris McAlister raced the second 400 metre hurdles heat, and the result was never in doubt from early on. First, in 51.45, McAlister qualified for Sunday's final.


There were two athletes racing over the half mile for BUAC, outgoing track captain Issy Boffey, as well as incoming 1:48 man Ollie Carvell. Boffey raced a smart heat, with a first lap of around 62 seconds, before easing home in the second of two automatic qualification spots with a time of 2:05.46. In a strong heat that was won by Jake Wightman, Carvell was in the lead trio with 300 metres remaining, but unfortunately was run out of it over the final 150 metres, finishing in 1:55.34.

Quirk racing 3000 earlier in the year

The women's 5000 featured two current students, Amelia Quirk and Saskia Millard, in a race that was in doubt leading up to the championships, and was secured not least in part by a Twitter campaign from Jess Judd. When it came to racing, it was no wonder Judd wanted to race, as after a slow opening kilometre, Judd, Bronwen Owen, Verity Ockenden, and Quirk formed a small group of lead athletes.


It took around three kilometres into the race for the elastic to finally snap, as Judd, Ockenden, Owen and Quirk split from a chase pack led by Millard and Jenny Nesbitt. With a kilometre to go, it was Judd who had taken up the pace, and with a lap to go she was still leading, from Ockenden and then Quirk. The order at the bell was the order at the line, and so Quirk won her first senior medal, and set a new club record in the process, her bronze-winning time 15:43.35.


Millard had led the chase pack for much of the latter half of the race, and was just out-dipped by Izzy Fry by three-hundredths as she kicked to a 16:02.03 personal best and fifth place at the British Championships in her first attempt at the distance.


1500 heats were all that were left after the conclusion of the women's 5000, and to kick off the action it was a first men's heat with James Gormley and alum Ian Crowe-Wright racing. Navigating a talented and dangerous heat which featured a cameraman stepping out onto the track just as the athletes entered a straight, both athletes successfully qualified for the following day's final, Gormley with an auto-Q of 3:48.59, and Crowe-Wright a 3:49.35q.

Brint and Sinha race at Bromley

Heat one for the women had a trio formed of alumna Megan Davies, her Sale Harrier clubmate Cesca Brint, and Cambridge Harrier Sabrina Sinha all racing. Bunched early on, the race sped up significantly in the latter half, with Sinha the fastest finishing, but outside of the qualification places, sixth in 4:20.17. Davies and Brint followed her home in seventh and eighth, 4:23.82 and 4:24.07 respectively.


Emily Thompson raced in the last event of the night, heat two. A race featuring 5000 metres champion Jess Judd, who had concluded that race only 31 minutes earlier, was electrifyingly quick, with the first four athletes over the line faster than the winner of the previous heat, as athletes went in search of qualification spots. Thompson placed seventh in the heat, a time of 4:19.97 giving her non-automatic qualification into the final.

Carvell winning English Schools' in 2019
The summer track season was a challenging one for obvious reasons. I received an invitation for the British Championships in March and aimed to use the championships to gain experience of competing at a senior level. The championships being delayed until September posed the obvious challenges of a drawn-out season having started speed training in late April, using hill running and deserted golf courses to substitute for track running through the sunshine of the lockdown. To prepare for the championships, I used a host of unofficial time trials at my home club of Telford to avoid laned distance races and ran a promising 1:49. Unfortunately, the performance at the championships didn’t live up to expectations but lack of racing was obvious after struggling in a tactical race. Nonetheless, a good experience in competing against some of the best senior middle distance runners in the UK. Ollie Carvell

James Davis' Day 1 report can be found here.

Vinco coverage of the event can be found here.

Highlights of the event can be found on the British Athletics YouTube channel here.


5th

British Outdoor Championships Day 2

Another Imroth/Pearce head-to-head at Metchley

The second day of the championships got off to a stellar start, as alumna and converted distance runner Gemma Bridge was in a strong second position in the women's 5000 metre race walk. Heather Lewis of Leeds led for much of the race, but after a disqualification late on, Bridge walked to victory in a time of 22:51.15.


Kristian Imroth and Mark Pearce were Shaftesbury Barnet clubmates in the 3000 metre steeplechase, as the incoming fresher and associate member battled it out over the barriers. Pearce led for much of the early race, in fact taking the athletes behind all the way to 500 metres to go. At that point, Phil Norman kicked away, with Birmingham Track Elite member Pearce chasing and reeling him in slowly over the last hundred metres, before running out of metres to make something happen.


Pearce finished second in 8:33.61, a massive personal best that put him UK#49 all-time. Imroth came home in fifth and a time of 9:08.19, another strong showing for the athlete who was soon to join the talented crop of steeplechasers training at the university.


The 400 metre hurdles final had Chris McAlister, the Thames Valley Harrier running from lane six. In third place for much of the race, a strong home straight took the former BUAC man past a tiring Efe Okoro, winning British silver in a time of 50.54.


Much like the men's 'chase, the women's also had BUAC ties, with two current athletes in the form of Maisie Grice and Lucy Jones. While the stadium record-setting Aimee Pratt charged off into the distance, with Rosie Clarke behind, Grice and Jones marshalled the chase effort. Paying the price for their early work, the duo finished sixth and seventh, with Grice finishing in 10:39.07, ahead of Jones in 10:56.03.


Jonny Davies raced in the men's 5000, a race which saw new British 5K road record holder Marc Scott somewhat dance off into the distance. Scott's efforts strung out the pack behind, and with seven laps gone the BUAC alum found himself isolated with a lead four ahead, and the chasing masses behind. He would hang on to his fifth position in a time of 13:52.51 at the line, twenty seconds down on his season's best.

Boffey kicks hard in Bromley

The fast-starting Issy Boffey led the women's 800 final after 100 metres, as it was a battle to get to the front in a 29-second first quarter of the race. Keely Hodgkinson and Ellie Baker were both in and amongst the action up top alongside Boffey, and both led her into the home straight. With work to do, the BUCS Indoors 400 champion showed her pace, surging past Baker in the final metres to win a silver medal in a time of 2:04.73.


James Gormley, Ian Crowe-Wright and Emily Thompson had made the 1500 finals, and in a race where just over three seconds covered the top twelve, it all came down to the kick. Gormley and Crowe-Wright battled in the early laps, and both found themselves towards the back when they hit the bell.


Gormley fought back to a creditable sixth, in 3:53.15, but unfortunately Crowe-Wright could not match the fast finish of those around him, ending up eleventh in 3:54.18. Thompson, clad in BUAC colours, battled a strung out field to finish twelfth, in 4:23.09.

Imroth racing 'chase in Loughborough
British Champs for me was a challenge, but also an opportunity. Coming off the back of a stress fracture the season prior, and not be able to race because of Covid, I hadn’t raced over the barriers in a year. My main aim was to just enjoy the experience of the whole event and race with no fear or pressure. Finishing 5th was a huge achievement for me and only gave me confidence for future races. Finding out that I was going to be a sports scholar at Birmingham was a very exciting time. Also knowing the team I was joining, the support I was going to get, and the great coaches made it even more special for me. Kristian Imroth

James Davis' Day 2 report can be found here.

Vinco coverage of the event can be found here.

Highlights of the event can be found on the British Athletics YouTube channel here.


6th

Weekly Roundup

After a bumper week that included the British Champs, and PBs up and down the country, James Davis' weekly report can be found here.


10th

AFD 1500s

Farrow racing at the Lee Valley BMC in August

Aldershot, Farnham and District have never been short of middle-distance talent, and nor was their track on the tenth, as they hosted fifteen 1500 metre races.


In the tenth race was fresher Ellie Farrow, in her second outing over the distance for the season. Finishing ninth in a strong mixed race, Farrow's 4:35.2 (HT) had her as UK#10 U20 at year's end.


In the women's elite race, and eleventh heat, the fast-paced trio of Amelia Quirk, Maisie Grice, and incoming fresher Charlotte Alexander took on the metric mile. Quirk was the first of the three home in second, setting a personal best of 4:14.4 (HT) just under a week after her British medal. Grice and Alexander finished sixth and seventh, and there were bests for both, Grice with a new personal best of 4:28.1 (HT) to better her performance at Harrow in August. English Schools' 3000 champion Alexander produced a 4:29.2 (HT) on the night for a season's best, a time which gave her a ranking of UK#4 U20.


Incoming freshers were in action on the men's side as well, as Jack Johnson and Brett Rushman ran. Johnson took 4:12.7 (HT) for fifth in race thirteen, while in the subsequent heat Rushman headed under the 4-minute barrier for the first time, 3:58.2 (HT) his new best.

British Champs was a great opportunity to run a competitive 5000. I had run a big PB in the 3000 two weeks before and really surprised myself. A few days after lockdown was announced, I found out I had a stress response in my femur. This was really difficult at the start, but one positive was that each week got a little bit better as I was allowed to do more training. Last season was my first time racing the 5000 and I struggled to perform the way I knew I could. I headed into British Champs cautiously optimistic (I knew I was in good shape, but last season had taught me to respect the distance). I had been hopeful of a quick time but with a very slow first K I knew it was best to just focus on competing. I was really happy to finish 3rd and with how I had held my own against much more experienced competitors in the closing stages.
Quirk in cross action earlier in the year
Aldershot (where I train when I am at home) organised a ‘Night of 1500s’. I had done very little faster work but decided to race anyway. I ran the race alone, unable to bridge a frustrating 20m gap that had opened up over the first lap. I came away with another surprise PB and the knowledge that I could run quicker in a group. 5 days later, on a lovely summer night in Battersea I ran a PB to finish 4th in a competitive field. I am so grateful to my coach (Mick Woods), Ollie Armstrong and Mike at Physiokinetic for supporting me through my injury. Also to the amazing people who refused to let COVID-19 restrictions stop races from going ahead, coming up with innovative solutions to allow everyone to feel safe and race fast. Amelia Quirk

Full results can be found here.


13th

Weekly Roundup

In a quieter week after the conclusion of British Champs the previous weekend, there was still plenty of racing to be had. James Davis' report can be found here.


15th

BMC Trafford

Brint leads the A race

After plenty of injury woes in the previous 18 months, Cesca Brint was back near her best in Stretford, as the BMC returned. Her 2:06.53 for second in a fast women's A 800 was her fastest of 2020, and fastest in over two years.


The B 1500 for the men also featured two U20 athletes in good shape in the form of Ethan O'Shea and Dan Maud. UK#12 and UK#15 U20s, after 3:51.64 and 3:52.44, Maud took over a second from his previous best, while O'Shea sliced over four from his.


Video links to all races can be found in the 20th September roundup here.

Full results can be found here.

Photos from the meeting can be found here and here.


Belgrave 1500s

On the same night in South London, Belgrave Harriers hosted their Night of Fifteen 1500s, one of the more self-explanatory meet names in the calendar.

Alexander in Herne Hill colours

Charlotte Alexander raced in the seventh heat, her 4:29.27 just seven-hundredths short of her best from Aldershot earlier in the month. Alexander's fellow fresher Tomer Tarragano joined Maud and O'Shea in achieving an impressive UK ranking over 1500, after his 3:52.03 in race 12 excised over five seconds from his best to go UK#13 U20.


In the women's elite race, the final of the night, Amelia Quirk battled the dominant Adelle Tracey and Australian international Genevieve Gregson (née LaCaze) to take another two seconds from her personal best in 4:12.19, going UK#12 for the year.


Full results can be found here.

Photos from the meet can be found at:

Nigel Bramley Photography

Hamud Photos - Races 7, 12, 14 and 15


16th

Boffey in Kladno

Issy Boffey raced at the delightfully named Kladno hází a Kladenské memoriály, in Kladno, Czech Republic, on the 16th. Over 800 metres, as per usual, the Enfield and Haringey athlete went through the bell in 62 seconds, before kicking hard for home. Crossing the line first at the World Athletics Continental Tour meeting, the BUCS Indoors 400 champion finished in a time of 2:01.88, a huge new personal best and a time that placed her UK#6 for the year.


Full results can be found here.

Power of 10 results can be found here.

Video of the race can be found here from 68 minutes onwards.


18th

BMC Nuneaton

Joe Tuffin was the star of the show on track at a Nuneaton BMC consisting purely of 1500s, finishing third in a fast A race to take nearly four seconds from his personal best. His 3:48.28 bettered his 3:52.03 from BUCS Outdoors in 2018.


Video links to all races can be found in the 20th September roundup here.

Full results can be found here.


Monument Miles

Davies leads Crowe-Wright home

Up north of the border, four alumni and three of Birmingham Track Elite travelled for a contest that aimed to host the first sub-4 minute miles in Scotland for eleven years. Taking a BUAC 1-2-3, Jonny Davies and Ian Crowe-Wright were the men to manage it, 3:59.36 and 3:59.61 their times, unsurprisingly both personal bests. Mark Pearce was good value for third spot in the elite race, running 4:02.85.


Full results can be found here.

Photos from the meet can be found here.

Scottish Athletics report can be found here.


20th

Grice Steeplechase Best

After a run out over 1500 at Nuneaton two days prior, Maisie Grice added distance and difficulty in Yeovil as she raced the 2000 metre steeplechase.


The British finalist produced a stellar run over the shorter of the senior steeplechase distances, and after crossing the line, was rewarded with a time of 6:40.46 that was good enough for UK#5 U23 all time, UK#28 all time, and World#23 for the year.


Full results can be found here.


Weekly Roundup

There was plenty of middle distance action yet again, rounded off by Maisie Grice's unbelievable 2000 'chase effort. James Davis' report can be found here.


22nd

Virtual Sports Fair

With term 1 officially starting on the 21st, the 22nd played host to the virtual sports fair, with Zoom calls aplenty as we welcomed a plethora of newcomers into the club, seeing record membership numbers of over 230.

23rd

Hercules Wimbledon Distance Night

Tom Keen won the fastest 3000 of the night in Wimbledon, the last major performance of an outstanding BUAC September. Racing to a time of 8:13.04, the outstanding performance placed him UK#2 U20 for 2020.

Full results can be found here.

Video links to all races can be found in the 27th September roundup here.


27th

Weekly Roundup

A quiet week, despite Tom Keen's stellar 3000, James Davis' report can be found here.

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