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Piers Copeland

Peerless Piers 'sprints' to Bannister Mile

As if to prove virtual running can be exciting, Piers Copeland (Wimbourne AC) – pictured above, looking remarkably like the great man – came through with a late 'sprint finish' to take the BMC Bannister Virtual Mile held between 4-6 May, 2020.

The British Milers Club (BMC) commissioned the Bannister Virtual Mile to commemorate the 66th anniversary of Sir Roger Bannister's iconic achievement, when he ran four laps of the Iffley Road track in less than four minutes for the world's first sub-four-minute mile.

The initial plan was to have 1,609 runners – one for each metre of the mile – but such was the interest this was raised to 1,954 athletes to mark the year of Bannister's barrier breaking run. The target set on May 6, 1954 at Oxford was Bannister's world record 3:59.4 but the closure of all UK athletics tracks due to the Coronavirus lockdown put this beyond the reach of any of the competitors in this virtual event.

Piers Copeland's fine 4:02 solo effort eclipsed Tom Marshall (Cardiff, 4:06) in the final few hours. Seb Anthony (West Suffolk), Ben Greenwood (Perth Strathtay Harriers) and James Heneghan (Cardiff) clocked 4:07 for a three-way tie for third. Former National cross country champion and IAAF World XC international Adam Hickey (Southend, 4:09) was an interesting entrant, finishing joint sixth with World Championships steeplechaser Ieuan Thomas (Cardiff, 4:09).

Lilly Coward (Invicta East Kent, 4:38) took a big chunk off her indoor track PB (5:00.98) to take the women's honours from Hollie Parker (Enfield Harriers, 4:43) and joint third Rachael Franklin (Ribble Valley Harriers, 4:45) and Keira Brady-Jones (Wirral, 4:45) – with a bright future promised for the under-17 from Merseyside. There were more than 260 athletes under 5:00 minutes; at least 800 bettered 6:00 and 1,060 finished inside 7:00.

The results were also sorted by age-grading and there was only ever going to be one winner of that competition – multiple Masters world record holder Clare Elms (W55 Kent AC, 5:14) with an astonishing 103%! The age-graded runners-up were W55 Jenny Hitchings (USA, 5:38 – 95.75%) and W65 Dorothy Kesterton (Steel City Striders, 6:59 – 92.52%).

Bannister Mile posterAverage age-grading was also used to determine team results and the winners were Wirral AC (87.47%) from Salford Harriers (86.6%) and Cardiff AC (85.49%).

Full results are available at OpenTrack here and more than £1,500 was raised for the Turn2Us Coronavirus appeal through the JustGiving page here

Image of Piers Copeland from Twitter

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