Brilliant Bels Confirmed National Marathon Champions

Craig, Andy and James Kings of the Castle


Well, it’s taken a looooong time as the blazer brigade have picked apart the team marathon results for the English and UK champs for 11 days, and conjured up solutions that please about 1% of the participants in our sport.  As far as whines go from me, this is minor, because we’re in the 1%, but it’s still clear for all to see that the grassroots of athletics has a group dissemblers doing their best to ruin things (while trying to justify their jobs).

If we just went with what nature intended the men’s champions would be Notts outstanding trio of Thewlis, Livesey and Keal who ran 2:17, 2:19 and 2:23; while Aldershot returned 2:17 and a pair of 2:24s. But due to minutiae like Thewlis of Notts being in the main race, not the Championship, he is deemed ineligible.  While two of the AFD boys wore their sponsors’ vest in the elite race.  A really harsh choice for them to have to choose between club and bank balance.  Surely people who start in the elite can be waived from the club vest – it’d affect only one or two clubs per year.

This all became tragically relevant for the poor bronze-deprived Belles who are unable to score the heroic Tish Jones’ 2:33 because she was in the elite race – in Belles colours – but because she started earlier is somehow discounted.  Even the guy compiling the results wrote and told me he could see “no reason” why she shouldn’t score.  And poor Iona Cousland – like Thewlis – doesn’t count due to not being Championship.  She ran the race of her life, an astonishing negative split, paid her subs, paid her reg fee, paid her race fee, entered as Belgrave and ran in the vest, but it’s all deemed insufficient.  The horrific reason the organizers give is that they can’t be expected to check the reg on 40,000 runners.  But they don’t HAVE to: only the relevant ones like Thewlis and Cousland – about 40 athletes in each race.

The ruling decimates the lure of marathoning, that some of us only do a couple in a lifetime, the amazing progress people can make from leaping from 3:50 to 3:10 in a yearly cycle, and that there are loads of reasons why someone may not be in the Championship race – you need a half or marathon qualifying time for one.

It’s all a great shame for a sterling Belles performance and we all doff our caps to Tish, Iona, Justine and sweeper Lou for a monumental effort.  Next year!

Onto the men though and Craig Ruddy, Andrius Jaksevicius and James Williams are getting plenty of column inches for their win; so our warmest congratulations to them.

The EA press release is here.

And the British Athletics release here.

In fact, Craig (right) has picked up a third gong for his trouble as the race also incorporated the Scottish champs, which went to Inverclyde.  And he was joined in that quest by the battling Mark Pollard.

It’s Belgrave’s first National Marathon win since the very hot race of 1996, where two of our scorers were wiped out because of the blazer bureaucrats; and several others had horror shows in the heat.  It was 4 to score back then and in reverse order we went:

Junior Galley 2:56 (ouch, surely no coming back from that)

Jim Estall 2:35 (signs of life, but insufficient unless we have a miracle)

Gary Staines 2:12 (whammo!)

Paul Evans 2:10 (thank you and goodnight.)


This year’s result also rights a painful wrong when we were initially declared champions a decade ago via Mark Miles, Mal Byansi and Will Cockerell who dealt with the heat that day better than any other club in the land, only to be DQ’d by dear old Mark not wearing his vest.  Awww, the agony on poor Mal’s face when I broke the news to him at the post race bash…

So there it is, a dramatic little set of parlays and despite our irritation at the bewildering array of stupid rules, we’ve come out of it all in credit as a 1st and a dnf is preferable to a couple of 3rds.

But try telling that to the Belles.









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