What’s to come in athletics in 2019

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Stock track Alexander Stadium. Birmingham Grand Prix 2015. Photo: NS53 via Flickr.

Another year in the athletics world has crossed the finish line, having seen some truly memorable races, phenomenal performances and top quality championship events. But as one finishes, the gun is already waiting to go off on another. Here’s a look at some of the highlights for the upcoming year that you will have to mark on your brand-spanking new calendars.

January

12th January – Great Stirling XCountry

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It’s as if the traditional athletics calendar can only officially start after an international cross county event in Scotland. After eleven years of hosting the prestigious cross country run, the televised mud spectacle moves from Edinburgh to the neighbouring city of Stirling.

Middle-distance queen Laura Muir will headline the GB team for the first Great Stirling XCountry as she competes in the senior mixed relay along with Alex Bell, Phil Sesemann and Jamie Williamson. Andy Vernon and Kate Avery lead impressive senior teams. 

The 20-strong national team will be looking to seize the title from Team Europe who comfortably won last year and were spearheaded by last year’s Senior Women’s Race winner, Yasemin Can. Another force to be wary of is the USA team with the likes of last year’s winner Leonard Korir and Garrett Heath, with the latter hoping to convert his superb performances in Edinburgh over to Stirling.

February

Come February, it is very much indoor season, with a trio of enticing championships to really get your track spikes dug into. 

9th-10th February – British Indoor Championships

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Once again held in Birmingham, a host of athletes will be looking not only to take a domestic title, but also secure their place for the European Indoor Championships that will be held in Glasgow soon after.

Defending champions, Jake Wightman (1500m), Asha Philip (60m), Tom Bosworth (3000m walk) and Morgan Lake (High Jump) will all be looking to defend their titles and start their seasons in winning fashion.

15th-17th February – BUCS Indoor Championships

Andy Henderson at the 2016 BUCS indoors
Leeds Beckett coach Andy Henderson celebrates medals with two of his athletes. Photo: Andy Henderson

A week later, it’s the British Universities’ (BUCS) Indoor Championships, with students aiming to achieve individual success as well as gain valuable BUCS points for their universities. Early in the season for many, and with a tendency for a number of the star student-athletes to bypass the event due to international commitments, every year promises enticing competitions where the gold medal can literally be anybody’s to win.

March

1st-3rd March – European Indoor Championships 

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A great weekend of athletics is destined for the city of Glasgow at the beginning of March as Europe’s best athletes compete for continental honours (and will likely be grateful to be indoors). It will be a fabulous opportunity for the immense talent Scotland possesses to impress the home crowd. The likes of Laura Muir, Eilish McColgan and Chris O’Hare will be looking to take at least a medal on home turf. Jake Wightman is unfortunately ruled out through injury.

17 March – English Schools XC 

Thomas Keen and Rory Leonard battling. Rory Leonard.
Thomas Keen and Rory Leonard battling. Rory Leonard.

It will then be the turn for the new crop of talent to showcase their ability on the mud. Likely to be one of the closest-fought races will be in the Senior Boys race, as Thomas Keen and Rory Leonard could once again battle it out, like in the 3000m at the European U18 Championships in Hungary and the ISF World Championships in Paris. The duo are developing a great rivalry as they push each other to their potential.

April

6th April 2019 – ERRA 6 & 12 Stage Road Relays

ERRA English National Road Relays. Photo: James Young.
ERRA English National Road Relays in Birmingham, October 2018. Photo: James Young.

The 6 and 12 Stage Road Relays is one of the biggest dates on the club calendar, as clubs from across the country have the opportunity to truly demonstrate their strength in depth and boast that they are the best nationally. The women’s 6 stage comprises of two long legs and four short legs, whilst the men’s is six long and six short.

Due to the number of athletes required per club, it is always an unpredictable race, as fitness, injuries and general team selection can have a major impact on the result of the day.  However, there is no doubt that defending women’s champions Leeds City and men’s champions Tonbridge will be bolstering strong squads in an attempt to retain their titles.

May

3rd May – Doha Diamond League

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At the start of May, the IAAF Diamond League season gets underway in Doha as is customary. It’ll be the start of a big few months in particular for Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Abderrahman Samba, who’ll hope to impress their home supporters in a year where they’ll return to host the IAAF World Championships.

4th-6th May – BUCS Outdoor Championships

Emily Moyes (St Mary's blue and white) on her way to win the steeplechase at BUCS 2018. Photo: Jack Anderson
Emily Moyes (St Mary’s blue and white) on her way to win the steeplechase at BUCS 2018. Photo: Jack Anderson

The outdoor season as usual begins with the BUCS Outdoor Championships, once again held in Bedford on the May Bank Holiday. The weekend demands the ability for athletes to be able to negotiate through each round as well as their talent, with a lot of the events having three rounds in three consecutive days. Therefore, we can always guarantee some very tactical and even scrappy races. Watch back last year’s event here.

July

6th July – Night of the 10000m PBs & European Cup

Jo Pavey at the 2017 Night of the 10,000m PBs. Photo: Andy Waterman FOR USE ONLY TO PROMOTE HIGHGATE
Jo Pavey at the 2017 Night of the 10,000m PBs. Photo: Andy Waterman

The Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs is quickly becoming one of the great spectacles of the track season, combining the immersive old-school, track-side experience for spectators with the glitz of the lights and music surrounding the track that really makes it a unique experience. Of course, what really makes it such a great event is the talent that is undoubtedly on show. Alex Yee stole the headline last year, being the first GB athlete home in 27.51 that warranted him his first senior GB vest at the European Championships. The unbelievably talented triathlete could well use the event this year to better his time.

12-13 July – English Schools Track & Field Championships 

English Schools 2018. MV4R Photography.
English Schools 2018. MV4R Photography.

We now turn our attention back to talented youngsters for the 89th ESAA Track & Field Championships that will be held at the Alexander Stadium for the last time before it is demolished to be rebuilt for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. It will be interesting to see which event one highly talented youngster, Dominic Ogbechie, will compete in.

Dominic won the Intermediate Boys 200m last year, but his majestic, bouncing strides have also seen him claim a World Age 15 best in the High Jump of 2.22m, and also holds the U17 UK Long Jump Record. The last three years, he was won gold in each of the three events at English Schools’ so we will have to wait and see what he will tackle in 2019.

11-14 July – European U23 Championships

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Gӓvle in Sweden will host the biennial competition. The dilemma that will descend on a lot of the top athletes will be whether to compete or put all their focus onto the very late World Championships in October as they will have to attempt to sustain their ability or peak in two separate periods over what will be a long track season.

If she does compete, Morgan Lake will certainly be one of Britain’s highest hopes for a gold medal. A former World Junior Champion in the heptathlon and European Junior Champion in the high jump, now with all her focus on the high jump, and topping the U23 rankings in the event last year, Lake will be hoping to add another gold to her cabinet. For the men, it will likely be Britain’s strength in the middle distance events that will prove the most rewarding with the likes of Dan Rowden, the only U23 this year to break 1.45 in the 800m, as well as US-based Josh Kerr and Welsh athlete Jake Heyward being the star names in the 1500m.

August

24th-26th August – British Championships

Elliott Giles wins the 800m at the British Championships in Birmingham in 2018. Photo: MV4R Photography
Elliott Giles wins the 800m at the British Championships in Birmingham in 2018. Photo: MV4R Photography

Due to the delayed World Championships, the British Championships, including world trials are subsequently later than usual. This will be a chance for the best athletes in Britain to battle it out not only for national pride, but also to secure their place on their plane to Doha.

Our new golden girl, Dina Asher-Smith will be looking to retain her national title before she heads off to conquer the world after conquering Europe this year by taking a golden treble in Berlin. We will also see Naomi Ogbeta attempt to continue her domestic dominance in the women’s triple jump and likewise with Lorraine Ugen in the women’s long jump and Tom Bosworth in the 5000m race walk.

29th August and 6th September – Diamond League Finals

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Come the end of August, we’ll see the first of two finals of the IAAF Diamond League. The unusual thing is that they’ll be shortly before the IAAF worlds, but thankfully they aren’t back-to-back nights this year. Athletes will compete in Zurich on 29 September, before attentions turn to Brussels on 6th September.

September

28th September-6th October – World Championships Doha

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“Good things come to those who wait”. And that is what everybody will have to do this year as the stellar event of the year only commences late September. Countless high-calibre athletes will be on show – too many to all be able to fit into this preview. 

But the special Ingebrigtsen brothers will certainly be on a family-led onslaught against the African dominance in the middle distance races. Sir Mo Farah will hope to convert his track supremacy over the previous years to the marathon. Whilst the battle to be the fastest male and female athlete in the world will certainly be one of the most anticipated races, with Americans Justin Gatlin and Tori Bowie the defending champions. 

Meanwhile, the Men’s high jump is consistently becoming one of the most enticing competitions on the athletics schedule with the likes of home-favourite Barshim, Lysenko, Nabokau and Starc having put on tremendous contests over the last couple of years. Another top rivalry will be in the women’s heptathlon as once again the strength and power of the Belgian, Nafissatou Thiam will go head to head with the speed and elegance of Katarina Johnson-Thompson. 

October 

TBC – ERRA National Autumn Road Relays

Contrary to the April relays, the Autumn relays only require four women and six men to make a team, allowing more clubs in with a chance of taking the coveted title. Due to the total length of the race being shorter, having your own star athletes racing can make all the difference, as last year the fastest legs of the day came from the athletes who raced for the eventual club winners in the shape of Emily Hosker-Thornhill for Aldershot and Ross Millington for Stockport.

November 

9th November – Liverpool Cross Challenge

At Sefton Park, the third instalment of the British Cross Challenge series also incorporates trials for the European Cross Country Championships the following month. A relatively flat course, it is susceptible to quickly transform into a mud swamp if the weather is not too kind in the days leading up to the race. However, last November, athletes found the course a lot kinder than recent years and easier underfoot. The terrain conditions can have a major influence on the results, with the stronger athletes such as Andy Vernon and Emilia Gorecka actually preferring muddier conditions, that would make the race a harder slog for the athletes that tend to perform better on firmer surfaces like last year’s winners Charlotte Arter and Ross Millington.

December

8th December – European Cross Country Championships

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Lisbon will be the host city for the next European Cross Country Championships and it will be those that ran well at Liverpool that will have the chance to represent Great Britain for the last time of 2019. It will be interesting to see how teenage wonderkid Jakob Ingebrigtsen can take a fourth consecutive victory as he moves up to the U23 race, but as Senior European Champion over 1500m and 5000m, it’s a challenge that does not seem too difficult for the Norwegian. Turkey’s Yaesmin Can is also another unstoppable athlete in the Senior Women’s, winning the last two consecutive years and will attempt to make it a hat-trick at the end of this year. 

There is no doubt every month has a mouth-watering event to get you excited about throughout the year. And just like you, we at Vinco cannot wait to witness the progress of all the talented athletes and see numerous new personal bests, new champions and nail-biting competitions for major titles.

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First published on: 6 January, 2019 3:13 pm

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