THE winners of the inaugural Saucony British Milers Club Grand Prix points series stand united in proclaiming the new prize scheme a resounding success.
Both Ellie Baker and Tom Randolph picked up cheques for £1,000 for their consistent results in three of the Grand Prix events; Baker winning the 800m at Watford and on Saturday Eltham and also the 1500m at Loughborough and 800m specialist Randolph winning at Eltham and Watford and taking third at Sportcity.
For both runners it was the biggest pay day of their running careers and they are urging the BMC to stick with the exciting innovation in 2022.
“It was like wow, I was so pleased to win the women’s points series,” said Baker.
“The BMC are really giving athletes great incentives to churn out good performances and the cash bonuses are brilliant.
“Once the team for the Olympics had been selected it helped to motivate the rest of us who just missed out. The new points series definitely gives people something to aim for and it was a great idea.”
While Baker dominated the women’s points series to finish 14 points clear of Jenny Selman and Jenny Nesbitt, Randolph’s success was more unexpected.
“Initially I was a bit surprised I was in the running for the prize money but it definitely made it worthwhile to run at Eltham!” said Randolph.
“Winning the £1,000 was more than a little bonus. I have never made any money from the sport before and while I run because I enjoy it the financial reward adds a nice bonus.
“I’m sure next year more people will know about it and there will be more top guys competing for the prizes. It was great and thanks to the BMC for putting it on.”
Jenny Nesbitt won three times over 5000m during the Grand Prix season to finish joint second with Selman, with the BMC deciding to award both women £500 each.
She is definitely hoping it will become a regular feature of the summer programme.
“The points series was a great idea,” said Nesbitt.
“It reminded me of the Cross Challenge from back in the day which also built up towards a big final event.
“It certainly helped to attract runners to the final event at Eltham. Often runners are ending their season in early August but in getting people to come to the last event it was like making it a celebration of the Grand Prix series over the whole summer.
“I’m sure it helped attract runners to do more than just one Grand Prix. When I saw the scheme I decided I would run at least three of them to qualify and hopefully that will ensure more top class British runners to race domestically in the future.
“Races that offer prize money in the UK are few and far between and for me it is the first time I have won anything and the money certainly helps towards expenses of travelling and so forth.
“Also, it is important to support events like this in the UK. If we don’t support them they might disappear and there will be nothing for future generations.
“I have been doing BMC races since I was an under 17 and I have always enjoyed them. You know what you are going to get; runners coming together to run fast times and there is always a pacemaker.”
It wasn’t just the runners who picked up a cheque who thought the scheme was a winner. Tokyo Olympian Elliot Giles ran his first Grand Prix of the summer, winning the 1500m and revealed afterwards he thought it was a terrific concept.
“This new points series has been a great incentive to turn up and race,” said Giles.
“I’m sure the likes of myself and others would do more of the Grand Prix events as we are trying to earn a living from the sport.
“I would definitely race them more.”
Before embarking on her long trip home to Edinburgh Selman offered her thanks to the BMC.
“If you get everyone to the same races chasing the prize money then it makes for a much better race and I would rather do that here than going abroad,” said Selman.
“Offering that prize money has been a great incentive for athletes.”
Final Standings following the Eltham Grand Prix
|1||Thomas||Randolph||Tamworth/St. Mary’s Uni||88||£1000 Prize|
|2||Kyle||Langford||Shaftesbury Barnet||82||£500 Prize|
|3||Tiarnan||Crorken||Preston/Liverpool John Moores Uni||75||£200 Prize|
|4||James||Mcmurray||St. Albans Ac / St. Albans Stride||74|
|6||Thomas||Keen||Cambridge & Coleridge/Birmingham Uni||64|
|1||Ellie||Baker||Shaftesbury Barnet||94||£1000 Prize|
|2=||Jenny||Selman||Fife / Dundee Uni||80||£500 Prize|
|2=||Jennifer||Nesbitt||Cardiff Ac||80||£500 Prize|
|5||Sabrina||Sinha||U23||Cambridge H / Birmingham Uni||61|