All podium finishers run under the qualifying standards at The Big Half, ahead of World Road Running Championships
Jack Rowe and Calli Thackery emerged victorious at the The Big Half, with all six athletes on the podium qualifying for the half-marathon at the inaugural World Road Running Championships [October 1].
Off the back of Great Britain’s most successful World Championships in 30 years, this race in London, just a week after the final day of action in Budapest, was also a sign of the strength in depth of British distance running on the roads.
In a measured race which produced an explosive kick in the last 5km, Rowe clocked 61:18 and decimated his personal best in the distance of 62:04.
Even though he has qualified for the half-marathon in Riga, Rowe states that his main aim will be to race the 5km in Latvia.
First, he has to qualify. So Rowe will race the 5km at the UK Road Championships on September 8, an event that is part of the build-up to the Great North Run.
“I think this could be a great start to the road season. I’m in a great place and shape is good.”@jackrowee on his win at the @OfficialBigHalf – who smashed his personal best of 62:04 to win in 61:08 💥
Next is the 5km trial for the World Road Running Champs 🇬🇧
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) September 3, 2023
His 5000m personal best of 13:20.00 was set back on May 23 so all Rowe will have to do is finish inside the top three on Tyneside.
“I thought a time like that [61:18] was doable,” he told AW. I’ve done three half-marathons now and I’ve found not to concentrate on the times but on the field and how you progress. I’m really happy with it but there’s some more there.
“My main aim is to run a fast 5km. I’ve been aiming to become a 5km athlete over the past couple of years and that will be a great tool to race on the roads [in Riga] but if not then I’ve got a great full-back option to race the half at the Worlds as well.
“I’ve kind of dabbled with the road in the past few years. I think I’ll continue to progress that and I feel in a great shape and I’m in a good place.”
Mahamed Mahamed was the closest challenger to Rowe but finished eight seconds back in 61:16.
For Andy Butchart, who announced he’ll be making his New York Marathon debut on November 5, it was perfect preparation. The Scot clocked 62:15, much quicker than his previous best of 62:58 that he set, ironically in the Big Apple, on March 19.
If one of the top three doesn’t decide to race the half-marathon in Riga then that opens the door for Jonny Mellor, who finished fifth at The Big Half but also has the qualifying time over 13.1 miles.
Thackery impresses again
Calli Thackery was too good for the rest at The Big Half and like Butchart, will use this half-marathon as progression towards a longer-term goal.
She will also race over 26.2 miles in the US but at the McKirdy Micro Marathon, taking place at Rockland Lake State Park on October 14. Situated around an hour’s drive north from Manhatten, Thackery’s aim is to go below the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:26:50 on a looped course which is described as both fast and flat.
The fact that Thackery clocked 69:15 to win The Big Half – not far off her personal best of 69:01 – spoke volumes of her ambitions.
It’s also been 30 years since Thackery’s dad Carl claimed both individual and team bronze at the World Half Marathon Championships.
“It was amazing and it’s been a great day,” Thackery told AW. “I’m ultimately training more towards the marathon. I’ll see how the Worlds go and then I’ve got my first marathon! So we’ll see how that goes.
“I just want to enjoy my debut and get a good feel for it. There’s no pressure but I want to get an Olympic qualifier. If not, I’ll get another chance early next year.
“I’ve enjoyed the road races. I’ve dabbled a little bit on the track but I love the road races!”
Rose Harvey and Abbie Donnelly both also went under the qualifying standard of 71:30, recording marks of 70:02 and 70:31 to finish second and third respectively.
Farah’s final farewell in London
Mo Farah waved an emotional goodbye to his fans as he completed his last ever professional race in London.
The British capital, that saw Farah claim two Olympic gold medals at London 2012 and a world 10,000m title at London 2017, has held so many memories for one of Great Britain’s greatest athletes.
Farah finished The Big Half in a more than respectable fourth, given he is firstly 40 and also felt unwell in the immediate build-up to the event, recording a time of 62:43.
Afterwards, the quadruple Olympic and six-time world champion high-fived runners coming across the line.
“London has always been part of my journey,” Farah said. “I took part in London mini-marathons when I was a young boy. I wanted to come out here and give it my best.
“Yesterday, I spoke with Hugh [Brasher] and Spencer [Barden] and told them I wasn’t feeling well. Then part of me was like, I couldn’t let down so many people who had come out on the streets, supporting me’.
“You cannot take anything away from Jack [Rowe]. He did incredibly well. The same with Mahamed and Andy Butchart, my training partner. If I got back to when I was younger myself, I have known Hugh for many, many years.
“Overall, I know I have achieved medals but if I didn’t have the support or the people who believed in me, I wouldn’t be here today. I want to say thank you to everyone who has come out and given me support.”
Dramatic wheelchair races
Both wheelchair races at The Big Half produced incredible finishes as each were one by a second or less.
Sammi Kinghorn, who claimed the T53 world 100m title this summer in Paris, edged out Eden Rainbow-Cooper in a photo finish that went down to tenths of a second. The pair both clocked 52:05, almost five minutes under the previous course record, and winning The Big Half, Kinghorn’s chair went over. She was treated my medical staff but quickly given the all-clear.
David Weir won yet another title on the streets of London and just saw out Danny Sidbury, with the two clocking 47:26 and 47:27 respectively.
Afterwards, Weir stated that the Paris 2024 was to be his last Paralympics.
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