This is the fourth story on the British Indoor Trials by Stuart Weir. This piece is on Day 2 (February 19, 2023). I miss hanging out with Stuart at this Champs each year, last time we watched together was in February 2019. Stuart Weir writes to give us an intimate view of our sport. For that, we are very grateful.
If day one of the British Indoor championships was highlighted by sprints, day 2 was the distance day with 800, 1500, and 3000 for men and women and selection for the European Championships as well as the glory of being British champion at stake.
Guy Learmouth makes his fifth European Indoor Champs team, photo by Getty Images/BritishAthletics
The men’s 800 was won by Guy Learmonth who qualifies for his fifth European Indoors. He denies that he is an indoor specialist! He dominated the race from gun to tape, commenting: “I wanted to come out and run very hard from the get-go and my main aim was to close out the race as strong as I possibly could. So all things considered I’m pretty happy”. With his coach and training group based in Melbourne, he divides his time between Australia and UK always managing to be where summer is!
Isabel Boffey wins 800m, photo by Getty Images /British Athletics
The women’s 800 was won by Isabelle Boffey in 2:03.27. Having already secured the European qualifying standard it was all about coming in the top two for Boffey. Her excited response to qualification was: “I’m buzzing, super happy with my race. I was super confident/nervous coming into today’s final but I’m happy to have got the auto Q into the European Championships. I’m feeling really confident going into The Euros, I got to the final 2 years ago, so hopefully, I can re-create that performance”.
Jenny Selman was second in 2:03.68 with Boffey’s training partner, Abigail Ives, and third in 2:03.97.
Neil Gourley, smiling with medal from 1,500m, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
The men’s 1500 saw Neil Gourley win in 3:41.20 from George Mills (3:42.87). Gourley commented: “It was nice and controlled and I was happy with the way I closed the last 150 meters. The season has been going really well. We’ve worked a lot out in Flagstaff on getting stronger, I’ve done a lot of aerobic work and trained a little bit more like a 5km guy if anything just to try to catch up with the way the 1500m is being run in the world right now. So it’s paying off because even though I’ve been working on the strength stuff the speed is still there if not better. So I’m really happy with the way things are at the moment”.
A jubilant Ellie Baker, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
Ellie Baker, who ran a championship record 4:06.73 to become British Champion, was a little bemused by her day: “I honestly cannot believe it. This season, I knew I was in great shape coming into the indoor season, but it hasn’t been showing in my races which has been super frustrating, but I kept my mindset and came away with the Championship Record and my first British Champs Gold, in my very first British Champs competing in the 1500m it’s all a lot of firsts and I’m delighted with everything”.
Ellie Baker takes the 1,500m, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
She admitted that she had given herself another problem: as principally an 800 runner she was running 1500 to help her 8s. Now, she thinks her coach will want her to be a 1500 runner!
Katie Snowden, whose second place, will guarantee her a place in the Euros, expressed disappointment that her time of 4:06.98 did not reflect her current fitness.
A close 3,000 meters, Hannah Nuttall battles Melissa Courtney-Bryant, with photo by Getty Images/BritishAthletics
Melissa Courtney-Bryant won the 3000m (8:50.76) in a sprint finish from Hannah Nuttall. As both of them already had the qualifying time – and were again inside it – they will be Britain’s representatives at the European Indoors in two weeks. Amy-Eloise Markovc, the reigning European Indoor champion was the early leader before being overtaken and finishing fourth. The winner commented: “It’s been a while since I’ve won a British title, the last time I won it was in 2020 indoors”. She added an interesting comment on the tension between racing to win and ensuring selection for the championship. “It was hard to know when to go and also I wanted to go ahead a bit earlier but I didn’t want to do anything silly, I just wanted to book many places for the Europeans”. Nuttall commented in a similar vein: “I’m really happy with how I raced. I did exactly what I came here to do and was really excited to race again in two weeks [European Indoors].
James West wins 3,000m at Brit Trials, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
James West won the men’s 3000m in 7:49.78 to clinch his place in Istanbul. He assessed his performance as follows: “I ran a strong race and got the gold. I hit the front at around 300m to go which was the goal and hit the bell in the lead and once you’re in the lead indoor on the final lap it’s really hard for people to get past you. My goal is definitely to make the final at Europeans and then a medal is definitely up for grabs”.
I have to confess to a certain amount of confusion as to the situation with regard to selection with my understanding that Keely Hodgkinson and Laura Muir have been granted selection without running the trials.