SCOTS RUNNERS Lynsey Sharp and Eilidh Child competed against each yesterday in an unusual meeting of disciplines as they fought it out in the novel 500-metre race in the Great North CityGames.
Sharp edged the battle of the Saltires, but the 800m runner had to settle for the runner-up spot on the Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside, just ahead of 400m hurdler and room-mate Child. Both were competing less than 24 hours after busting a gut against the world’s best in their specialist events in the final Diamond League meeting of the season in Brussels, Belgium.
Instead, world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu took first place with a comfortable run.
Unlike her Glasgow 2014 team-mates, Laura Muir emerged as the Caledonian star of the Geordie show. Muir has not enjoyed the best of times on the major championship stage this summer, getting shunted backwards as she prepared to launch her attack in the Commonwealth 1,500m final at Hampden Park (ultimately finishing 11th) and then suffering a knockout blow in the heats of the metric mile at the European Championships in Zurich. The 21-year-old veterinary student has run some world-class times both indoors and out this year, though, and seized the opportunity to show that pedigree in her final race of 2014.
Competing in only her second ever mile race, Muir seized the lead after 200m and managed to maintain her composure even after Helen Obiri, the 2013 World Championship bronze medallist from Kenya, edged past her with 400m remaining. The Dundee Hawkhill Harrier judged her effort to perfection, sweeping ahead 100m from the line to win in 4min 34.84sec, a personal best, with Ireland’s Ciara Mageean second in 4:35.47.
“We went into the race with a winning plan,” said Muir, giving a nod of appreciation to her coach, Andy Young. “I don’t normally take races on, but I thought this was the race for trying it out. That’s it for me this season. There have been a few downs but a lot of positives as well.”
For Sharp and Child, half of the battle was getting to the start line for their oddity of a 500m race, which started on the road and finished on the track. Sharp competed in the 800m race in Brussels at 9.38pm local time the night before, finishing joint runner-up behind Brenda Martinez of the USA, and did not get back to the room she was sharing with Child (who had earlier finished third in the 400m hurdles) until after midnight.
“I didn’t get off to sleep until about 1.30am and I had to be up at 4am to catch the flight here,” said the Edinburgh AC athlete who won Commonwealth and European 800m silver.
With the first 350m taking place on Tarmac, the five-woman field had to race in training shoes rather than spikes, and Child slipped and lost her footing when the gun fired. Sharp shot to the front and would have stayed there had Ohuruogu not found the form she has been keeping under wraps in a deliberately low-key season.
The former Olympic 400m champion pulled clear to win in 1min 07.46sec, with Sharp second in 1:08.05 and Child, the European champion and Commonwealth silver medallist, third in 1:08.11.