BRITAIN’S brightest middle distance runners will compete in the 500m and mile races at this weekend’s Great North CityGames on the banks of the Tyne.
Andrew Butchart, the Scottish runner hailed as the ‘future’ by Sir Mo Farah upon his retirement from track racing this summer, will line up in the men’s mile, while in the men’s 500m Martin Rooney will take on Guy Learmonth in what will be a hotly-contested battle over the rarely-raced distance.
Lynsey Sharp will be competing in the women’s 500m against Olympic bronze medallist Anyika Onuora, with the women’s mile taking on an international flavour as part of the free-to-spectate street level athletics meeting, broadcast live on BBC One.
Last year, spectators were treated to a record breaking 500m race, with double Olympic champion David Rudisha smashing the world’s best time over the distance which finishes on the specially constructed track on the Gateshead quayside.
Rooney, who was part of the men’s 4x400m team which took bronze in this summer’s World Championships in London, also broke the world best time in Gateshead last year and will take on Learmonth, the World Championships semi finalist over 800m.
Botswana Olympic 800m silver medallist Nijel Amos will be in contention, with Britons Dwayne Cowan, Jacob Paul, Rabah Yousif and Andrew Osagie also competing.
Six out of the ten fastest times over 500m were set in last year’s race on the quayside.
Scottish 800m specialist Sharp won the women’s 500m last year, and will return to Gateshead fresh from her involvement in the World Championships where she finished eighth.
Her 1.06.62 last year is the third fastest of all time over 500m, and the likes of Onuora, who won bronze as part of the 4x400m women’s relay team in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, will have to be on top form to beat the Brit.
Perri Shakes-Drayton, part of the 2012 Olympics 4x400m women’s relay team, will compete along with European U20 800m silver medallist Ellie Baker, while European interest will come from Dutchwoman Lisanne De Witte and Spain’s Laura Bueno.
Over the mile, Butchart will be competing against Charlie Grice, while Elliot Giles will step up from the 500m to take on the longer distance. Marcin Lewandowski, who finished seventh in the World Championships over 1500m, will swap the metric mile for the imperial mile on Tyneside.
Holland’s Susan Krumins and Kenya’s Winny Chebet will be the frontrunners in the women’s mile, but the likes of Adelle Tracey, Rosie Clarke and Jemma Reekie, who trains with last year’s mile winner Laura Muir, will also be in contention.
With a range of events on offer from 100m sprints to the one-mile distance, and including pole-vault and long jump in a specially constructed multi sports arena on the banks of the Tyne, the Great North CityGames kicks off a weekend of first-class sporting action which encompasses the Simplyhealth Junior and Mini Great North Run, the Simplyhealth Great North 5k and finishes with the world-famous Simplyhealth Great North Run on the Sunday.
The athletics action is free to watch, no ticket is required, and the event is broadcast live on BBC One from 1.15pm.