With just over 400 entries, a cracking entry for the top 800m races and the incorporation of the 5000m trials for the European Under 23 and Under 20 Championships the second Grand Prix meeting of the season on Saturday is shaping up to be a top night of non-stop action.
In the men’s 800m A race four of the top six from the 2018 race are in the line-up with Canaan Solomon fresh from his season’s best of 1min 48.49secs in Sweden last week.
Solomon was runner-up to Daniel Rowden last year as just 0.54secs covered the top four men so can be sure that the likes of Max Burgin and Markhim Lonsdale, who chased him to the line that night, will be looking for a different outcome on Saturday.
Lonsdale recently ran a season’s best of 1:49.72 at Stretford while Halifax teenager Burgin will be racing for the first time this summer.
Also in the field is Ireland international Zac Curran, who ran 1:47.73 indoors last winter and has opened out outdoors with 1:49.78 in Belgium at the end of the last month. He finished sixth in Loughborough last year and will be looking for a big improvement on that.
Also throw into the mix Lonsdale’s 2018 World Junior Championship team-mate Alex Botterill, who ran 1:48.46 to finish second behind Oliver Dustin at Sportcity and you have the ingredients for a terrific race.
The women’s 800m A race is not short of quality either with British international Hannah England heading the field along with Leigh junior Kelley Hodgkinson, who ran a PB of 2:04.60 in the BMC Gold Standard meeting at Stretford on Tuesday – well inside the European qualifying mark of 2:06.00 – also on the start line.
There will be a lot of attention on the 5000m races for which meeting organiser George Gandy reports a very strong entry, not just in quality but also numbers so that there will be four men’s races and one women’s.
Among those entered is Blackheath & Bromley’s William Fuller, who is coached by Gandy at Loughborough. Fuller dipped well inside the qualifying standard of 13mins 53.00secs for the European U23s with a PB of 13.45.88 in Belgium a few weeks ago.
Last year’s winner Kristian Jones will be back to defend his title though the Swansea Harrier has had a quiet year so far.
“We have 13 runners in the field who have run under 14 minutes,” said Gandy.
“I think a lot of runners looked at last year’s results when the first 16 in the B race all ran PBs and 12 of the top 14 in the A race did the same.”
Fastest man in the field is Kazuma Taira, who has run 13:41 this year plus there are a whole bunch of guys who have run under 14 minutes.
Most of the top juniors look like running in the B race with Morpeth’s Rory Leonard, who dipped inside the qualifying mark of 14:00 with 14:16.35 on his debut in the Sportcity Grand Prix last month, heading the field.
Jess Judd will be looking to follow up her victory at Sportcity with another win as she heads the women’s field for the 5,000m and can expect some keen competition from the likes of Jess Piasecki (ne Coulson), Verity Ockenden and Lily Partridge.
In the championship qualifiers Bracknell AC’s Amelia Quick (under 23 PB of 16:02.47) and Cornwall AC’s Grace Brock (under 20 and PB of 16:08.82 on her debut at Sportcity) head the entries with both women having already achieved the qualifying standards of 16:05.00 and 16:30.00 respectively this summer.
It will also be interesting to see how Perth Strathtay’s Sol Sweeney fares as he is intending to run the 1500m (PB of 3:42.77) and then later the 5000m (PB of 13:51.94).
The first race is at 5pm while between 4-5pm the BMC coaching clinic will feature a talk from Carol Sharp, mother of British international 800m runner Lynsey Sharp.