athletics

World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 (14-23rd July) - HOW, WHAT AND WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH

Tom Bosworth Breaks World Record Race Walk Anniversary games

After the excitement of the Anniversary Games where Tom Bosworth blew my mind with a 5m31.08 WR in the mile race walk (yes that’s *walking* at a pace that would get you a 2:24:38 marathon), Laura Muir ran a mile PB in 4m18.03 despite fracturing a foot earlier in the year and Mo held off Spanish competition in the 3000m to float home in 7m35.15, the London Stadium is geared up and ready to go again as we head into the first 10 days of the World Athletics Championships. In a flip-around from the 2012 games, the Para Athletes are up first.

World ParaAthletics Championships London 2017

 

The IPC World ParaAthletics Championships runs from today until the 23rd with the IAAF equivalent following on the 4th-13th August. I’m lucky enough to be on an attachment with BBC Sport for two weeks working as a researcher on some of their coverage of the former event and I have to say, it’s made me wish I’d paid more attention to the last two Paralympics. This is going to be a great competition.

Hollie Arnold Dan Greaves

So, how can you watch, who should you watch and why should you watch the World Para Athletics Championships? Here’s a roundup of useful articles from around the internet:

How?

On TV: Channel 4 will be covering the evening sessions live from 7pm each day (except the 19th - More 4 instead) and afternoon sessions will be live streamed on All 4

channel 4 paralympic

On radio: BBC 5 live and BBC World service will be commentating. The BBC Sportsite and App witll also have live updated

We're pretty good with coverage in the UK, but China livestream all 2020 medal events!

What & Who?

Athletics Weekly have done a great day-by-day breakdown of the schedule, showing when all the Brits are competing and highlighting some of the other important performances.
BBC Sport offers its own highlights and a full list of the British Athletics squad

Why?

Jacob Steinberg at the Guardian ponders how much London 2017 is keeping up the momentum of the Paralympics there in 2012, especially given the low ticket numbers and budget cuts suffered ahead of Rio 2016. He also reminds us that the T44 1500m winner in Rio was faster than his able-bodied equivalent. So, you can expect some top notch competition.

Jonnie Peacock

The Telegraph has some interesting facts and figures including a look at the rise in participation over since the first Championship in 1994

Frustratingly our Women’s T35-38 4x100 Relay team who previously set a World Record at the IPC European Championships, Grosseto 2016 will not have the chance to win a medal because there are not enough countries entered to compete in their race. Instead they will run in an un-spectated session in a non-medal race. How depressing for them. More involvement in Para Athletics is clearly still needed.

T35-38 4x100 relay World Record British

Lastly, but in no way least, because an athlete died in training 2 days ago. It’s incredibly sad and we don’t know yet the full details of what happened, but if nothing else some incredibly engagement with Para Athletics would make it seem a tiny bit less futile.

Interesting things - Laura Muir, Tokyo Marathon, Lily Partridge, TransGranCanaria

I thought I might try a sporadically regular post of things that I've found interesting to read, see, hear.

1. Laura Muir continues to be awesome (read Sean Ingle's report here)

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4min 2.39s worth of awesome infact. That's how long it took her to run 1500m in the European Indoor Championships and broke the standing record in the process. If you get chance, watch the race. First she kicks from the back of the pack to the front, then she holds off an attempt from Konstanze Klosterhalfen (Germany) with another change of gear. I love the 'Laura Look' she gets. In every race there seems to be a point where something clicks in her mind and you can see the grit and determination lock-in. 

2. Tokyo Marathon happened
Sarah Hall(US), ex-track runner and wife of Ryan Hall (U.S marathoner turned Cross Fit-Crazy) beat the 2:30 barrier, coming 6th. Oh, and Wilson Kipsang ran sub 2:04:00 for the fourth time ever to win it and wore the swanky new Adidas Sub-Two shoe (see below).

Also, Kate Carter and Susie Chan appear to have had the most fun ever, Marcus hung on through adversity and battled through ITB issues, and Joni Moni smashed the three hours. Loads of other fab instagram-running friends ran it too. My feed was awash with cool Japanese-ness.

3. Lily Partridge(UK) made a storming marathon debut in Seville, and could still do better.
Fourth place in 2:32:10. Read more at Athletics Weekly 

4. The ARCollective basically took over TransGranCanaria.
Covering all the races : 30k, 42k, 82k, 125k and the inaugural TGC360, the team ran, hiked and partied their way through TGC with amazing shows of guts and grit. Every person I've spoken said it was harder than they ever imagined, but that they found the experience lifechanging. Whether it was a first trail marathon, an 8th place, or toughing it out big time, they did the gang  proud and gave those of us back home major FOMO.

Night Of The 10,000m PBs

Last Saturday I went to watch people run 25 laps around a track, three times. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it might not be the most entertaining way to spend a Saturday evening. I'm a running fan and even I wasn't sure if it would actually be interesting. I was very excited to find out though. There's plenty of write-ups (see below) around telling you what happened but let me tell you what it was like..

Photo by Jessica Sumerling

 

It was a warm evening and at just after 7pm we walked from the edge of Hampstead Heath towards the track. A couple of joggers came the other way but as we got closer we realised that we were now in the area being used for warm up by those running. These runners looked normal though and surprisingly relaxed - none of that nervous jiggling or super co-ordinated kit you see on the starting line at the Olympics but rather some strides and jogging and yes, some short shorts. 

As we entered past the kids playground and into the Highgate Harrier's home turf the sound of the samba band and the chatter of people got louder. I knew this event had grown since it started in 2013 but the crowds up the bank by the start line, waiting for fresh pizza in front of the first bend and in the run-through bar buying drinks and Like The Wind Magazine on the straight were still something of a surprise. I was trying to work out if all these people are runners. I've got nothing to base it on but at a rough estimate I'd say maybe 30% were those there for the event rather than because of a geeky love of running.  

We took our £1 programme and joined some friends who had been picking out runners in each race and cheering them on. The test starting gun went.  Looking down at the lineup and matching the names to the numbers we tried to cheer on the gents in the final B race. I had one runner to look out for but it wasn't necessary to have a hook-in to keep me interested. Watching the different running styles, the emotion on their faces and the to-ing and fro-ing as they battled it out was enough. The race felt like it was over in a flash, now for the Olympic Qualifiers.

The carnival band took a break, ready to be rejoined by their Rio style dancers in the next races. I'm told there was a faux Michael Jackson around too. 

The men lined up. 28 minutes and top two would be enough to qualify to represent GB in rio. Andy Vernon had the time and only needed the place but the rest of the pack needed both. Now we were stood right next to the starting line and with a jump-inducing bang they were off. Perhaps because this is not my race and these were not my running heroes I didn't feel like there was that much tension as the race began. Fairly early on it became clear that the 28 minute requirement was unlikely to be hit but still the runners held on and seemed to be giving it everything. There was plenty of uncertainty about who would finish in the lead and in the end the end Ross Millington's 28:28 was an impressive time and one that I wasn't expecting from the early stages. If I've worked it out correctly that's 4'34/mi. I've never even run 5'34 for one mile let alone a minute off that for 10,000m. 

The women's race was the big draw for me and there certainly seemed to be a spark in the air at the start. Jo Pavey, who has done so much for bringing women's running to the masses in the UK, was clearly hot favourite in people's hearts and minds. Having not raced competitively in 2016 though and, as I later found out, suffering from a chest infection she was always going to find it tough. My Marathon-running friend and I spent a good while trying to work out who the pacer was (a woman - hurrah!) and later realised that we thought we'd just seen middle distance runner Helen Clitheroe  set a blistering start.  I'm  not sure if it was weird or ok, but I shouted as loud as I could every time Jenny Nesbitt , who I follow on instagram and has now been picked to represent team GB in the European cup. The sheer range of experience, age, running type and training background made for a great race. I'm sure I wasn't the only person though who didn't realise until the last lap that it was not Linet Masai, the Kenyan speedster who was leading the race but Jessica Andrews who took over 1 minute off her PB to finish first and automatically qualify for Rio in 31:58. The race was like a TV show - the exciting start, moments of panic and worry for those struggling and then a surge to a happy ending by an unexpected "underdog" (though some would say form pointed to this performance). 

Photo by Jessica Sumerling

 

Mr B put it well when he said that the evening was a bit like watching greyhound racing. He wasn't making comment on the physical attributes of the runners but rather the immediate nature of the viewing experience and the way that you could feel the crowd had a real investment in the result. I've got tickets for the World Champs in 2017 but after this Im not sure I'm ready to go back to remote, stadium style events.

Do we really have to wait until next year for something like this?

Meter Magazine have done a fantastic write up with a video, interviews and pictures that really capture what the evening was like. You should definitely check it out, even if you only look at their beautiful photos. You can also read the Guardian's thoughts and hear Marathon Talk's coverage of it. There's more of Jessica Sumerling's great photos on her Instagram too.

This is what the place normally looks like. A touch less inspiring.