By Owen Morgan
Some of Wales’ top runners are finding ways of sharpening their competitive edge during the coronavirus crisis.
Welsh Athletics, in conjunction with the other home nations, this week announced that the suspension of all competition had been extended until June 30.
So, with road races and athletics meetings shut down for at least the next two months, a number of nationwide virtual events have attracted the attention of our top athletes.
The likes of World Championship steeplechase competitor Ieuan Thomas and parkrun world record holder Charlotte Arter are among athletes from all over Wales who have entered the British Milers Club Roger Bannister Mile time trial.
While Welsh Athletics this week launched the first of its virtual challenges for runners in the shape of a 5K virtual event.
With the cancelled Welsh 5K Championships, due to have been held on the forthcoming Early May Bank Holiday weekend, the governing body is inviting entries for an alternative race – The 5K Virtual Challenge.
Competitors across all age groups from under-13 to 70+ veterans can complete their 5K solo run any time between 00:00 on Friday, May 8 and 23:59 on Sunday, May 10.
Entries are free – with an optional donation to Kidney Wales – and can be made via the Opentrack platform up until 23:59 on Thursday, May 7.
Runners should ensure that they are adhering to social distancing laws at all times, and should follow the following guidelines:
- avoid busy parks and routes wherever possible and always maintain a 2m gap from others when passing
- the Virtual 5K Challenge should be undertaken as part of an individual’s daily exercise allowance, and NOT in addition to any other form of daily exercise
- do not drive somewhere to run
- only one attempt with Strava or Garmin uploads will be accepted for the purpose of results
- runs must be completed individually
Further information on how to enter and guidance on social distancing is available on the Welsh Athletics website.
Meanwhile, there is an impressive entry building for the British Milers Club event, which will mark the 66th anniversary of Roger Bannister’s historic sub-four-minute-mile which was recorded at Iffley Road in Oxford.
As well as Cardiff athletes Thomas and Arter, clubmates Jenny Nesbitt and James Heneghan, who earlier this year won the Welsh Indoor 800m title, have also signed up for the event.
Lauren Cooper, of Parc Bryn Bach, a 1500m silver medallist from those championships at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff back in January, will also take part, alongside other Welsh athletes of all ages and abilities.
The Roger Bannister Mile TT is free to enter and will take place between May 4 and 6. The event doubles as a fundraiser for Turn2Us, a charity that aims to “fight poverty by helping people in need to transform their lives and futures”.
The goal is to raise £1609 – representing the 1,609 metres in a mile. Bannister ran his first sub-four mile in 1954, so the time trial has a cap of 1,954 runners.
At the time of writing limited spaces are still available here at data.opentrack.run/x/2020/GBR/bmcmile