Watford Grand Prix preview
A STELLAR line-up of top British two-lap runners is the mouth-watering prospect for the third BMC Grand Prix of the season at Watford on Saturday (JUNE 29TH).
Watford has traditionally attracted a very strong field and if anything it is even better than ever this year with the fixture moved back to later in the calendar due to the lateness of the World Championships in Doha.
For that reason some of Britain’s finest are making their first serious appearances of the season, including British internationals Jake Wightman and Alexander Bell.
“I think we are looking at one of the finest fields of British 800m runners we have had for many years,” said BMC chairman Tim Brennan.
“We could easily be looking at a 1min 45secs time to win the men’s A race as we have two guys who ran 1:44 last year and two more who have already recorded 1:46 this season.
“We also have Alexander Bell coming back to the track where she ran sub-two (1:59.93) for the first time when winning last year plus three other women who have run 2:01 or quicker over the past year.
“Both A races are shaping up to be very exciting.”
Wightman was the fastest British 800m runner last year after setting a personal best of 1:44.61 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London which lifted the Edinburgh AC runner to 12th on the UK All-Time List.
Until now injury has prevented Wightman from racing on the track this summer – he made his return with a record-breaking win (14:43) in the Worthing parkrun last month – so Watford will be a perfect venue for his comeback as he this meeting three years ago in a then PB of 1:47.13.
Three of the top four rated 800m runners in Britain last year will be at Watford with 2018 European Championships semi finalists Daniel Rowden (1:44.97) and Elliot Giles (1:44.99) also joining Wightman on the start line.
They will all be wary of Rio Olympian 1500m runner Charles Da’Vall Grice, who earlier this month in America opened his season with a 1:46.47 800m and a 3:54.77 victory over the mile which suggests he is in pretty good shape.
Spencer Thomas, who ran a PB of 1:47.10 in Belgium at the start of June and Jamie Webb (1:47.13 indoors) are also entered.
No-one will be more motivated than Bell to push her career onto another level after last year’s PB at this meeting left her fifth in the UK Rankings and she can expect stiff opposition from Sarah McDonald (2:00.88) and Revee Walcott-Nolan (2:01.78), which placed them sixth and ninth respectively in the UK.
European Indoor Championships fifth-placer Mari Smith improved her PB to 2:02.34 on the boards so will be aiming to better that this summer and consolidate her progress.
But the meeting is much more than just about 800m with a top entry for the two steeplechase races heading by British international Zak Seddon, who ran a lifetime best of 8:21.28 in Rome earlier this month to go second on the UK Rankings and Elizabeth Bird, who ran a PB of 9:53.29 in America.
Some of Britain’s top junior distance runners will also be in Watford as the UK Under 20 3000m trials are being incorporated into the meeting.
Morpeth’s Rory Leonard has already made a big impact over 5000m this summer so will be stepping down for some sharpening up work while Cornwall AC’s Grace Brock heads a good entry for the women’s race.
Jess Judd has won the 5000m at the opening two Grand Prix events but at Watford will step down to the 1500m where she will be joined by Hannah England.
The first race is at 5.30pm and spectator tickets are available on the gate.