Goolab and McDonald defend titles at Vitality Westminster Mile
16 May 2017, 12:21 p.m.
Defending champions Nick Goolab and Sarah McDonald defend their titles this year’s Vitality Westminster Mile on Sunday 28 May.
Goolab pipped Scotland’s Andy Butchart to the line 12 months ago in a thrilling finish to the annual one-mile race around St James’s Park. With both athletes running the same personal best and course record of four minutes one second it was Goolab who was presented with the Sir Roger Bannister trophy as British one-mile road race champion.
This year Butchart, who went on to finish sixth in the Olympic 5000m final in Rio, has opted to miss the mile and concentrate on defending his Vitality London 10,000 title the next day, Monday 29 May.
Tom Marshall, the Cardiff athlete who was third last year just one second behind, is also among the 2017 starters as are two GB Olympians with nearly two decades between them.
Ross Murray, 26, competed in the 1500m in front of home crowds at the London 2012 Olympics and is working his way back towards that form, while the evergreen Anthony Whiteman, 45, competed over the same distance at both the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Many of Whiteman’s contemporaries from those Games will be taking part in the Olympians Mile earlier in the day at the Vitality Westminster Mile, but the Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier is still competing at the sharp end of British middle-distance running.
The elite women’s field is of exceptionally high quality and last year’s winner McDonald will have to beat some of the cream of British middle-distance running if she is to retain the Diane Leather Trophy.
McDonald, from Birchfield Harriers, came from behind last year to beat Jo Moultrie by two seconds in 4:38 with Adelle Tracey a fraction back in third.
Tracey, from Guildford & Godalming AC, is back to challenge for a medal place again while Rio Olympian Steph Twell and former 1500m World Championships silver medalist Hannah England will also be looking to show they are in shape to qualify for the London World Championships this summer.
Another athlete looking to make the GB team for London 2017 is Alison Leonard, the winner of the 2014 Westminster Mile, while other names to look out for include Emelia Gorecka, the former European junior 3000m champion and Rosie Clarke who became the sixth fastest British woman in history over 3000m steeplechase in California earlier this month (9:36:75).
The senior Championship races will be the climax of a day-long festival of road racing which includes the British Championships One Mile Road Races for junior runners and wheechair athletes and a series of age-group races no doubt containing a few future Olympic hopefuls.
Past Olympians of various ages, genders and states of fitness will have been out in force earlier in the day in the traditional Olympians Mile, an annual gathering of Britain’s former sporting greats from Summer and Winter Olympic Games, headed this year by the two-time Olympic 1500m champion Sebastian Coe.
Alongside the former mile world record holder on the 2017 start line will be ice dance legend Jayne Torvill, rower Greg Searle, one half of the famous Searle brothers who won coxed pairs gold at the 1992 Games; Jo Pavey, who has run for Britain at a record five Olympic Games; and a trio of hockey gold medallists from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Rob Clift, Richard Leman and Steve Batchelor.
The oldest Olympian seeking to make the mile journey from The Mall to Spur Road will be 88-year-old Eric Shirley, who ran the 3000m steeplechase final at the 1956 Melbourne Games alongside Chris Brasher and John Disley who went on to found the London Marathon.
One of the youngest Olympians will be Goldie Sayers, the recently retired javelin thrower who broke the British record in 2007 and won a bronze medal at the Beijing Games in 2008.
Olympians from cycling, shooting, figure skating and fencing will also be running while numerous races for club athletes, joggers, families and school children will bring a carnival atmosphere to the world’s most spectacular mile event.