The Great City Games, Stuart Weir writes about the original street games


GNCG2017-152.jpgThe close battle over the women's mile, photo by Dan Vernon Photography

RunBlogRun introduces this column by Stuart Weir: The Great City Games and Great North Run are two of my favorite events. This year, they were same weekend as NB Fifth Avenue Mile. I was unable to attend either event this year, as the long season had gotten the best of me.

I was thankful, as always, for Stuart Weir's coverage of both events in Newcaste. This piece was on the Saturday events.

The Great City Games, by Stuart Weir

The Great City Games in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the north of England provided an excellent afternoon's entertainment for a large crowd in the centre of the city. While the field was not as strong as some years - due to the number of athletes who have already shut down their season after an exhausting World Championship season, the event did not lack exciting events.

The essence of street athletics is a combination of serious performances and the element of fun, with the crowd literally within touching distance and often the challenge of running an unusual distance.

Asha Philip, European indoor 60m champion, said of the occasion: "It's fun. The crowd is so close to you. They cheer for you. They want you to do well. In a normal stadium the crowd is so far away. You have climb over things to speak anyone and we always get stopped. Here we are so close to spectators".

Lynsey Sharpe, former European 800 meters champion, was also enthusiastic about the event, saying: "It is honestly the best meet of the year, one that everyone looks forward to. It is a good place to finish the season because you get to interact with people and warm-up in front of the crowd".

The full name of the city is significant as the track events were south of river Tyne and two field events, women's long jump and men's Pole Vault, north of the river. The women's long jump provided the most bizarre result of the day - if not the year - with Lorraine Ugen, Ksenija Balta (Estonia )and Jazmin Sawyers all jumping 6.46 with Ugen winning on countback. A bemused Ugen, said of the competition: "I kind of like these because they're quite fun. You just get to bring the crowd in and have a fun competition. I wasn't expecting everyone to jump the same distance! I've never had a competition like that before. It was still fun nonetheless". She did remind me of the 2017 Diamond League final which Ivana Spanovic won from Ugen, with the top 5 all jumping 6.61-6.70 but three jumpers registering exactly the same distance, that is something else!

There were also several very close races. Perri Shakes-Drayton defeated another GB athlete, Anyika Onoura, by 1 hundredth of a second. Desiree Henry defeated team mate, Asha Philip, by 4 hundredths of a second. America's Ameer Webb defeated Britain's Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (GB) by 2 hundredths of a second in the 150m

With six children's races on the track plus over 20 mini Great North Run races throughout the day, the event served to promote mass and youth participation in our sport. The one negative was to find Richard Browne listed in T44 100m for the third time this year. He has withdrawn on each occasion.

While recognizing that today, even for the professionals, was more about the taking part than the winning, these are the day's winners. In judging the times, it needs to be noted that all the sprints were into a strong headwind.

Results in order the events took place, athletes from GB where not stated:

MEN'S POLE VAULT Urho Kujanpaa (Finland) 5.45

WOMEN'S LONG JUMP Lorraine Ugen 6.46

WOMEN'S 100M Desiree Henry 11.61

MEN'S MILE Jordan Williamsz(Australia) 4:05.88

MEN'S 110M HURDLES Petr Svoboda (Czech) 13.62

WOMEN'S 500M (ROAD) Perri Shakes-Drayton 1:06.69

MEN'S 500M (ROAD) Nijel Amos (Botswana) 59.26

WOMEN'S MILE (ROAD) Melissa Courtney 4:33.83

MEN'S IPC T44 100m Jonnie Peacock 11.28

WOMEN'S 150M Dina Asher-Smith 16.70

MEN'S 150M Ameer Webb (USA) 15.24

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