Seb does six minutes at sixty!

Seb Coe

Seb Coe made his comeback to racing over the mile distance today at the Vitality Westminster Mile and recorded six minutes exactly whilst running in the Past Olympians category. He was also first in the 60 - 64 age group as 5,980 finishers crossed the Finish Line in front of Buckingham Palace on a day of remembrance and support for the victims of last Monday’s suicide bombing in Manchester.

The former mile world record breaker and double Olympic 1500m champion finished in six minutes exactly in the Olympians wave, upstaged on his return to racing by Rio Olympic rowing champion Constantine Louloudis who broke clear to clock 5:05, well inside Steve Cram’s ‘Olympians record’ from 2015.

“That was brilliant, and it was my first ever running event,” said the 25-year-old who won gold in the men’s eight in Rio last summer. “It was really fun to meet so many Olympians of different ages and sports. This is such a great event; I’m going to get my whole family to do it next year.”

Coe was also full of praise for the London 2012 Olympic legacy event.

“I loved the race,” he said. “It’s such a lovely mix of all sorts of things: people doing a bit of exercise, Olympians, youngsters who will become healthier adults as the result of taking part in races like this.

“Running is a wonderful thing to do. It’s easy, accessible, not technical. You can roll out of your front or back door and run. If you do it gently and carefully to start with, it will make a real difference to your daily life.”

Event Director Hugh Brasher began the six-hour festival of road running by introducing a minute’s silence before the first of the day’s 36 races around St James’s Park in central London.

“It was a cowardly attack designed to kill, maim and injure as many of the concert goers as possible,” Brasher told the runners asembled on The Mall. “It was designed to cause fear, division and suspicion, and to attack the very fabric of our society, of our values, of our freedom and our way of life.

“Today, here, in front of Buckingham Palace, we remember the 22 lives that were lost and the scores of people who were injured.

“As we run, as we have fun, as we enjoy this bank holiday weekend, we ask you to remember those lives lost, those injuries sustained, those families torn apart, and above all that love overcomes hate.”

Nick Goolab (handicap -5.6) became the first man ever to retain the British men’s one-mile road race title when he claimed the Roger Bannister Trophy for the second year in a row while Adelle Tracey (handicap -1.6) turned bronze into gold as she beat defending champion Sarah McDonald (handicap -1.4) to win the Diane Leather Trophy as British women’s road mile champion after placing third last year.

Goolab pipped Andy Butchart (handicap -6.7) on the line to take victory 12 months ago in a course record and the Belgrave Harrier left it late again as he grabbed his second victory with a dip finish.

The 27-year-old found himself boxed in at halfway and still off the pace with 400m to go but kicked off the final bend into Spur Road and passed a group led by Brighton youngster Robbie Fitzgibbon (handicap -5.5) on the outside.

“I saw there was just 100m to go and felt myself dying, but then I just found another gear,” said Goolab. “I really don’t know how I did it.

“I thought it was not going to be my day. With 600m to go I had to come up on the pavement to get through, but when I saw Robbie pulling away I thought I can’t let that happen. Then something changed with 100m to go and I just grew in confidence.”

Goolab stopped the clock at 4:04, three seconds outside his 2016 course record, but now believes a sub-four-minute mile is possible on the iconic C-shaped loop around St James’s Park.
Fitzgibbon emerged from a large group of some 15 runners to lead into the final turn, but the 21-year-old Brighton Phoenix runner had to be satisfied with second in 4:05 as Philip Sesemann (handicap -5.0) of Blackheath and Bromley took third in the same time.

Tracey tracked McDonald through the first half of the women’s race before Steph Twell (handicap -1.8) made a bid for victory along Birdcage Walk alongside Rosie Clarke (handicap 0.0) . McDonald attacked again in the final stretch but Tracey’s superior finishing speed took her to the line in 4:34.

It was a gratifying win for the Guildford and Godalming runner who raced over 800m in Belgium less than 24 hours earlier.

“My legs were really tired so it’s great to come here and win,” she said. “It was a pretty tough race but when I got to 400m to go I thought if I can hold on and put in a kick it would be great.

“To line up against so many amazing 1500m runners and come away with a win shows I’m in great shape.”

McDonald held on for second place in 4:35 with Clarke clocking the same time in third.

The six-hour festival also included junior wheelchair events for men and women, plus six British Athletics age group contests for boys and girls aged from 11 to 17 – a batch of races no doubt containing a few future Olympic hopefuls.