The last weekend of July saw OUCCC host its annual Iffley Festival of Miles, with this being the second year running that the club has organised the entirety of the event. 2018 would prove to be a special occasion indeed with Iffley Road being the home of the first sub-4-minute mile and Sir Roger Bannister’s passing in March of this year, which merited the inclusion of the flagship race of the BMC ‘Sir Roger Bannister Memorial Mile’ series.
The Iffley Festival of Miles races were scheduled first, preceding those of the BMC, and OUAC’s Matt Newton took first place in the 600m A race in a time of 1.25.71, whilst Penny Oliver took gold in the B race with 1.43.02. The more popular Open Mile races followed the 600s with several past and present OUCCC members competing. A stacked B race included Steven Diggin, Connor McGuirk, Chris Hutchinson and Flo Scrafton. Steven and Connor managed to be well under 5 minutes while Chris just missed out by a second. Flo ran a 5.07, but this was only her first event of the day. Kirk Smith made the cut for the A race and finished in 4th place, boasting a time of 4.33.35.
The final Iffley Miles race was a rather diminished 3000m with only around half of the entries making the start line, although both Oxford and Cambridge athletes lined up in unfavourable conditions. Ten athletes overcame the wind with Joe Woods and Lea Roumazeilles in dark blue and Jacob Brockmann, Su-Min Lee and Lauren Major wearing the minty green of Cambridge.
The BMC Regional meet made up the second part of the afternoon with the 800m races first up. Few PBs were to be had in the men’s races where the fastest time on the day was 1.53.18 from Edward Dodd of Portsmouth, but the women’s races drew much more Achilles attention. Isabelle Scott and Dani Chattenton of OUAC ran the A race with Issy finishing in an impressive 3rd in 2.11.14, whilst Dani was the only woman to pick up a PB in the field. Niamh Bridson-Hubbard of Cambridge was 4th in the B race and Flo Scrafton bagged a SB in the C race, having already ran a mile!
A minute of silence was then held in honour of the late Sir Roger Bannister before the eagerly anticipated Mile races in which we hoped a replication of his feat would be achieved some 64 years on. The A race was stacked with quality; Phil Norman, Jonny Hay, Josh Carr, Jamie Parkinson and Phil Crout, to name but a few. Norman took the win after a battle with Carr but no sub-4 time was to be had unfortunately. The wind had played its part, nevertheless six out of nine athletes recorded a PB or SB. There was not even a place in the A race for Oliver Fox of Cambridge, who took the B race win in 4.17, managing to out-kick James Coxon of the same university. Miles Chandler also featured and ran a SB.
The 2018 event was a huge success in its second year of total OUCCC control despite unfavourable weather conditions in what could only be described as unfortunate timing after having several weeks in a row of only sunshine. Many thanks to Helene, Alex, Charlotte, Oliver, all the officials and the OUCCC pacers on the day for providing such a memorable day of athletics. Thank you also to everyone who made a contribution to the Autonomic Charitable Trust at the event, since this is a charity of which Sir Roger was a founding trustee, and he chose to dedicate his post-athletics academic career to developing the field of autonomic medicine.
-Joseph Woods, St Peter’s College, OUCCC Men’s Vice Captain 2018-19
-Photos by James Meiklejohn