States round up – UK distance stars breaking America

Amy-Eloise Markovc‘s (Reebok Track Club) Euro Indoors gold was a welcome reminder that British distance running’s success relies on more than just what our athletes do on local shores. While nothing new an increasing cohort of athletes are taking their studies to the US and a growing crop of senior athletes have also relocated, joining a whole host of professional groups based stateside.

In this article we’ll run through those making an impact stateside but not necessarily getting the same press back home. You’ll notice there are far more men, I’ve gone on 2021 performances and how that figures in the rankings. It seems far more of our women are choosing to stay in the UK. If I’m missing anyone please let me know in the comments below. Times are 2021 season bests.

Marc Scott – Bowerman Track Club

3000 – 7.36.08, 5000 – 13.05.13, 10,000 – 27.10.41

It is an indication of just how far Marc Scott’s standing has risen that his second place finish in 13.05.13 came as an upset, the first time the Yorkshireman has been defeated this season, running against some of the best talent America has to offer. Now in his third season with the Bowerman Track club, under the tutelage of Jerry Schumacher he has made the step up to genuine world class.

His 7.36.08 is the fourth fastest by a Brit of all-time his 10,000 performance number two and his 5,000 number three. The former Richmond & Zetland Harrier, Cambridge & Coleridge and Tulsa Uni (NCAA Champ in the 10,000) athlete bypassed the Euro Indoors with the Olympics in mind. He will go to Tokyo competitive across both distances should he double up.

Josh Kerr – Brooks Beasts

1500 – 3.35.78

The Scotsman based in Seattle with the Brooks Beasts has shown his cards and shown them early. His victory at the Sound Running Invite a full three seconds clear of a field featuring reigning Olympic Champ Matthew Centrowitz and bronze medalist Nick Willis. A dominant display of front running, the former Edinburgh AC athlete knows competition for a 1500m spot in Tokyo will be the fiercest for decades but has experience at the top level. His sixth place in the 2019 Doha World Champs likely a breakthrough and not anomaly in a very exciting career.

Hannah Segrave – New Balance

400 – 56.88, 600- 1.29.93, 800 – 2.01.33(i)

Originally from Teeside the New Balance athlete has been based in the US since 2013. She recently beat Adelle Tracey in Austin over 800m, another indication that she’ll be aiming to mix it for an 800m slot come Tokyo. That said, this event will be one of the most stacked events in the whole British Championships. She came within a whisker of breaking two minutes in the Anniversary Games in 2019 (2.00.18) and will need something around there to force the issue with selectors.

Adelle Tracey – Training from Flagstaff

800 – 2.01.44 (i)

The Guildford & Godalming athlete has based herself out of the States in 2021, running four times over 800m in Texas, Arizona and New York. In another life Tracey could indeed be a USA athlete, having been born there and spending her early years in Jamaica. The World semi-finalist and European finalist will be hoping to get back to the form which saw her break two minutes for the second time in her career in 2020. With a stacked 800m trials it may indeed be a necessity.

Charlie Da’Vall Grice – Pete Julian’s Group (formerly Nike Oregon Project)

800 – 1.45.62, 1000 – 2.17.20

Rio 1500m finalist has certainly drawn a lot of attention moving to Pete Julian’s group in the US, the coach once former assistant of Alberto Salazar but make of that what you will. Everything has been focused around Tokyo and Grice is already benefitting from a meticulous approach at Nike headquarters hard to replicate in any other camp around the world. A 1.45.62 indoor effort in Arizona was fifth on the British all time list and his national record in the 1,000 culminated an indoor campaign where everything has gone to plan. Focus you would expect will still be on the 1,500 where he will face one of the most stacked qualifiers ever seen on British soil but signs so far indicate the Brighton Phoenix runner will be well in contention.

Yusuf Bizimana – The University of Texas at Austin

800 – 1.48.49 (i), 1 Mile – 3.57.81 (i)

British track fans will have enjoyed Bizimana’s breakthrough 2020, one in which he wasn’t afraid to take the competition to the established stars. Making the move to the University of Texas this year he has displayed some serious credentials over the mile and qualified with ease to the NCAA finals in a heat which included NCAA 1500m record holder Sam Tanner (who didn’t qualify). Which event he’ll focus on going forward remains to be seen but he has time on his side and is still a U23. The goal will be emulating Josh Kerr and Marc Scott in winning NCAA titles and with his progress so far you’d be a brave man to bet against it.

Tom Dodd – Michigan University

1 Mile (i)- 3.57.00

You’ll struggle to find a bigger breakthrough than Tom Dodd’s 2021. Prior to 2021 the Birchfield Harrier and Birmingham Uni Alumni had run a 1500 in 3.44.25. After his NCAA performance on Friday night, qualifying for the final, he has now run a 3.57.00 indoor mile. As soon as it is ratified it will place him just above Jake Wightman on 15th in the British all time list. Some run. A new level has been reached and the 24 year old has just added his name to a ridiculously crowded middle distance mix.

Tom Anderson – Club North West

3000 – 7.54.33 (i)

Now based in Seattle, the Skipton born athlete, formerly of Bingley AC, has quietly gone about his business but is increasingly knocking on the door to really compete for Olympic places, most likely over the 5000. His 7.54.33 is a continued improvement and ranks him fifth on the rankings this year. His coach Andrew Hobdell will be pleased with his continued progress and don’t bet against another breakthrough in 2021.

Euan Makepeace – Butler University

3000 – 7.55.43 (i)

Another postgraduate, Charnwood AC’s Makepeace’s one and only outing has been an impressive sub-8 performance in North Carolina. Coached by Mark Roe, the 25 year old continues his steady improvement over the last few seasons.

Charles Wheeler – Wisconsin-Madison Uni

3000 – 7.58.42(i)

Adding his name to the 5000 conversation is another athlete who until this year was a 3.49 1,500m man. His first season on the shores of Lake Mendota has seen the Buckinghamshire man break 8 mins over fifteen laps of the indoor track and he is joined at the same uni by U23 Jack Meijer who ran 8.02.79 in the same race.

Finley McLear – Miami University, Ohio

800 – 1.47.47 (i)

1.47 and change is no longer good enough to compete for British teams but the Exeter athlete has impressed in Ohio, winning all his 800m this year, including a meet in North Carolina featuring Nigerian international Edose Ibadin. Still only twenty one I’m sure we’ll be seeing more from this man.

Edit: within hours of publishing Finley McLear ran 1.45.91, finishing second in the NCAA indoor final by a single millisecond. Turned out the prediction happened quicker that I ever could have imagined.

Notable Mentions

James West (Oregon University) hasn’t as of yet reached his 2020 heights and Chris O’Hare (Adidas) is yet to race this year.

Featured image “USATF in Black and White” by Phil Roeder is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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