The ten o’clock chimes of St. Paul’s Cathedral heralded the start of the 2015 Amba Hotels City of London Mile. Over the course of the day thousands of feet pounded the city streets in sixteen different races. Runners of all ages and from all walks of life braved tube disruptions and less than favourable weather to challenge themselves over athletics’ classic distance.
Now in its second year, the Mile race presented by Run-Fast and title sponsor the Amba Hotel Group, attracted just short of 2,500 runners – more than double the number compared with last year’s inaugural event.
Winner of the first wave for the second year in a row was Team Run-Fast athlete Peter Huck. The 25 year old, who ran his first sub-30 minute 10k earlier this year, narrowly missed out on a personal best time with a time of 4 minutes and 25 seconds.
In the wheelchair race Nikki Emerson blew the field away in a new personal best time of 4.45, more than two minutes ahead of the second place finisher. A representative from the Weir Archer Academy commented that they had a number of first-time wheelchair competitors in the event and found it to be the perfect atmosphere for these athletes.
By far the biggest race category of the day was the Family Mile. In the minutes leading up to the gun hundreds of family members joined in with the Mile Maker volunteer team for a rambunctious rendition of ‘If You’re Happy & You Know It, Clap Your Hands” before heading on their way, many families crossing the finish line hand in hand a very uplifting sight.
Another hugely popular wave was the Women’s Mile, a race aimed at encouraging more women into running and which had attracted over 400 entries. Many on the start line were competing in their first ever race. Among those competing were sub-three hour marathon runner Nell McAndrew and the winner of the British leg of the 2015 Wings for Life Kate Carter. The race was won by Woodford Green’s Kirsty Tydeman in 5.17, with Nell McAndrew taking second place in 5.44 and Kate Carter third in 5.51.
The Youth Mile was dominated by young athletes from Tonbridge AC, with Samuel Crick posting an impressive time and new youth course record of 4.38, ahead of Freddie Ayre and Mason Webb who came first and second last year respectively. The junior ladies race was won by Tonbridge club-mate Polly Pitcairne- Knowles in 5.45, finishing 16th overall.
In the elite women’s race Alison Leonard won convincingly in 4.39.23, having led from halfway. Leonard shaved more than four seconds off last year’s course record set by Genevieve LaCaze. Jemma Simpson made a strong move from fourth into second position in the final 300 metres, finishing in 4.40.86, closely followed by Australia’s Zoe Buckman in third. The first ten female athletes made it across the finish line in under 5 minutes.
An impressive men’s elite field including Britain’s Tom Lancashire and Lee Emanuel then gathered on the start line in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral for the climax to the day’s races. A close-knit pack set off at the gun, with the race still very much up for grabs at the halfway point, reached by pacer Tom Marshall in 2:01. Australia’s Collis Birmingham led the group through the 1000m mark with the other athletes hot on his heels.
Taking the final turn on to Cheapside it was still a closely fought battle with Tom Lancashire, fresh from winning the 1500m at the previous day’s Le Cheile International, leading with 300m remaining. Lancashire, Birmingham and New Zealand’s Julian Matthews remained tight but it was Matthews, in his first ever road mile race, who broke the tape in a new course record of 4.03.40. Collis Birmingham took second place in 4.04.05, with Lancashire very close behind in 4.04.17. Despite earlier conditions leaving the course wet, the first five men all achieved sub 4.05 minute finishes, proving that the course holds potential for faster times.
Race Director James Ruskin of Run-Fast said “To get course records in both elite races is particularly satisfying. On the men’s side, we’re edging ever closer to the magical four-minute barrier. We also had seven nationalities represented in the elite races, which in only our second year is a significant achievement.”
The race organisers would like to thank everybody who took part in the 2015 Amba Hotels City of London Mile, the volunteers who generously gave their time to help make the event a success and our sponsors and partners without whom the race would not be possible.