A top international field of elite milers joined 2,500 club and recreational runners for the much anticipated 2015 Amba Hotels City of London Mile. Pre-race rain meant wet conditions but didn't prevent fast times and enjoyable running.
At the head of affairs pacer Tom Marshall reached half way in 2:01 before Australia’s Collis Birmingham led the group through the 1000m mark with the other athletes hot on his heels. Taking the final turn on to Cheapside it was still a closely fought battle with GB star Tom Lancashire, fresh from winning the 1500m at the previous day’s Le Cheile International, leading with 300m remaining.
Lancashire, Birmingham and New Zealand’s Julian Matthews remained tight and it was Matthews, in his first ever road mile race, who broke the tape in a new course record of 4.03.40. Collis Birmingham took second place in 4.04.05, with Lancashire close behind in 4.04.17. Despite the wet surface, the first five men all achieved sub 4.05 minute finishes, proving that the course holds potential for faster times.
In the elite women’s race Alison Leonard won convincingly in 4.39.23, having led from halfway where the pacer completed her duties. Leonard shaved more than four seconds off last year’s course record set. Jemma Simpson made a strong move from fourth into second position in the final 300 metres, finishing in 4.40.86, closely followed by Australia’s Zoe Buckman in third. The first ten female athletes made it across the finish line in under 5 minutes.
The Youth Mile was dominated by young athletes from Tonbridge AC, with Samuel Crick posting an impressive time and new youth course record of 4.38, ahead of Freddie Ayre and Mason Webb who came first and second last year respectively. The junior ladies race was won by Tonbridge club-mate Polly Pitcairne- Knowles in 5.45, finishing 16th overall.
In the wheelchair race 26-year-old Nikki Emerson blew the field away in a new personal best time of 4.45, more than two minutes ahead of the second place finisher. A representative from the Weir Archer Academy commented that they had a number of first-time wheelchair competitors at the event and found it to be the perfect atmosphere for these athletes.
Meanwhile the big field enjoyed a memorable start in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of the City before a speedy race at what would be for many - used to a steady diet of 5 and 10K - an unfamiliar distance.
Race director James Ruskin of Run-Fast said: “I’m delighted that this year’s City of London Mile was another great success, and to get course records in both the elite races is particularly satisfying. On the men’s side, we’re edging ever closer to the magical four-minute barrier, which I’m sure we’ll break through in due course. We also had seven nationalities represented in the elite races, which in only our second year is a significant achievement.”
Results for the City of London Mile Mile are available at runABC South website.