In a well run, and well received sporting event, managed and developed by Nova International, the Bupa Great North City Games is the first day of a two day festival celebrating sport and fitness in Newcastle/Gateshead. Nova International, headed by Brendan Foster, the great British distance runner of the 70s (and only Olympic medalist in 1976, a bronze in the 10,000 meters), produces events such as the GreatRun, GreatSwim, GreatBike and Great CityGames all over Great Britain.
Brendan Foster runs businesses like he ran: straight ahead and building success with great teams and strong staffing. Foster and his former partner, John Caine, revamped Nike Europe in Nike's early days, and, moving on, built Nova International with a unique view for events.
Andy Caine, the Nova International meeting manager, built a strong team for GBR and Northern Ireland versus some tough athletes from the United States. At the end of the season it was tough to find good and healthy athletes, but the did.
The venue, along the river Tyne in between Newcastle and Gateshead, is the perfect venue: a revitalized inner city center.
The Mondo four lane track is 150 meters long and it took a team of nearly thirty four days to build up the sprint track, the long jump runway and the pole vault runway. The distance races, the mile and two mile were loops around the city center (two for the two mile), with a strong hill around 1000 meters and across the Millenium Bridge, which rises twice a day (a site to see).
Mo Farah, who was beat after the London Olympics, and now the birth of his twin daughters, Aisha and Amani in late August, dreamed of a relaxed race with, probably a group of senior citizens for his last race of the season. .However, Collis Birmingham, fresh off a 7:37 PB for 3,000 meters took Mo through 4:10 in the mile. Mo Farah waited until 500 meters to go, and right on the Sling Bridge, took off, winning in 8:40.0, with Bobby Curtis of the US taking Birmingham out of second place, Curtis running 8:42.8. " Collis was tough today, and I had cut back in my training, " noted Mo Farah, happy his season was over. " It is a great event and I wanted to see the fans who brought their kids out to see me today."
Jason Richardson, the silver medalist from London, and World Champ in 2011 in the 110 meter hurdles, gave Lawrence Clarke of GBR a quick lead. " I just sat there, then started hurdling" noted a smiling Jason Richardson. Richardson and Ryan Wilson caught Clarke about hurdle 4, and then Richardson took off, winning in 13.41 to Wilson's 13.48 to Clarke's 13.57. " I want to congratulate Aries Merritt who set the WR this season and competed with me all season long. Hurdlers compete against each other every week of the season. I think this brings more attention to our event." Jason Richardson, one of the most articulate athletes in any sport, has lot to say about making the sport more entertaining, and we will be interviewing him soon on his thoughts.
In the pole vault, Mary Saxer of the US won over Holly Bleasdale of Great Britain. Saxer cleared 4.25 m on her first attempt. Bleasdale did not clear 4.25m on three attempts.
In the long jump, Chris Tomlinshon, who shares the British record with Greg Rutherford, and sixth in the past two Olympics, won today in 8.18m, on his third attempt, a new CG record. Greg Rutherford, the Olympic champ, has a groin injury, which hurt more on the second and third attempts, jumped 7.89m on his fourth, to take second. " I am still getting used to the gold medal, " noted a smiling Greg Rutherford. " I wanted to compete here, as I was team captain and I love the event." Christian Taylor, gold medalist in the triple jump, was third here in 7.74m. Will Claye, bronze in Olympic LJ and silver in Olympic TJ, took fourth today here in 7.60m.
In the women's mile, Jenny Simpson of the US, World Champ at 1,500m in 2011, took the early lead, leading until 3:30. Hannah England, the WC silver medalist in 2011, took the lead. As the two dueled, Anna Pierce began her charge.
Unknownst to those three milers, Brenda Martinez, who had just run PBs in Zurich and Zabgreb in the 800 meters, breaking two minutes for the first times, charged past the field and won the race, on the track, in 4:34.99. Hannah England was second in 4:35.56 and Anna Pierce was third in 4:36.44.
" I have one more race to go this season, and that is the New York Fifth Avenue mile, " said a very happy Brenda Martinez. " My coach, Joe Vigil told me to have fun and relax. I was joking at the start!"
Jenebah Tarmoh won the 100 meters in 11.17, with Miki Barber in 11.37 in second, Aniyka Onura in third in 11.42 and Hayley Jones in fourth in 11.78.
Tarmoh who ran on the gold medal relay winning US team in London, ran a great racing, leading from the start.
Dwain Chambers had a great day, winning the 100 meters for men in 10.04. James Dasoulu took second in 10.15, with Darvis Patton of the US in third in 10.16 and Calesio Newman in fourth in 10.17.
Bernard Lagat, all of 37, won the mile in a tough battle with James Brewer of Great Britain. Lagat came alongside Brewer about three minutes into the race, as Brewer hung on and Jordan McNamara battled through the field, moving into third. Lagat won in 4:01.62, with Brewer in 4:01.81, a PB and Jordan McNamara in third in 4:02.86.
" I have one more race, the Fifth Avenue Mile next week, and then a break," Lagat told RBR last night.
Aniyka Onura of Great Britain came back from fourth in the 100 meters to win the 150 meters, hitting the 100m in 11.34, faster than her 100 meter time, to win in a fine 16.70. Shayla Mahan of USA ran 16.99 for second, with Miki Barber of the US in third in 17.02 and Margaret Adeoye of GBR in fourth in 17.11.
Ryan Bailey, who had seen a doctor last night, with a blocked saliva duct, lead through 50 meters in 5.82 and then dropped out. Marion Devonish took the lead with Christian Malcolm in second, as Wallace Spearmon woke up just about past the fifty meter mark, moving into second at the 100m (10.39), and took the win in 15.13, to Marion Devonish's 15.20 and Christian Malcolm's 15.50!
The US won 6 events to three, with one point for a win, and no points for second. A great event!
We want to see this in the US!