The 39 steps: No Mile Relay . . . but there was a baton change in Eugene

Monday 27th May 2024

Photo with thanks to Tim Hutchings

British Record! Josh lands Cram mark and PBs, too, for Neil and Jake

By Peter Jardine, Head of Communications

The World Indoors in Glasgow was just a couple of days away back in March when Steve Cram addressed the Lindsays Sports Forum in the city.

Cram joined a panel with Eilidh Doyle and our chief executive Colin Hutchison with Ian Beattie as compere.

The British track legend and BBC commentator was in top form as he regaled the audience with anecdotes and insights after many years in the sport.

Cram all but tipped Josh Kerr to follow up his World Champs win over 1500m in Budapest last summer with World Indoors gold in Glasgow in the Men’s 3000m final.

To this correspondent’s recall, he didn’t mention on that evening the prospect of losing a British Record to the coruscating Kerr – the Edinburgh AC prodigy who has risen to the very top of our sport via first a college career in the United States and then as a professional athlete.

But that’s what happened at the Prefontaine Classic in the Eugene Diamond League meet on Saturday as Josh won in 3:45.34 to take down Cram’s mark set almost four decades previously. Steve clocked 3:46.32 in Oslo in July 1985.

Clubs are bedrock of our sport – Steve Cram

Fast finish as Josh heads Jakob in Eugene (photo by Matthew Quine)

‘I wanted to win the race and I knew it would take something along those lines (Steve’s Record) to win so, yes, it was in my mind but I wasn’t too focussed on the time,’ said Josh in Oregon.

‘I was comfortable in the first 800m and then, with 600m to go I just thought ‘Why not?’ and pushed ahead.’

Cram, for his part, must have known what was coming because his partner, former Scotland international Allison Curbishley, posted on Twitter: ‘Well, he called it!

‘Steve told me he though he would be passing over his 39-year-old British Mile Record today . . . and he wasn’t wrong. Take a bow, Josh, the new British Record holder for the Men’s Mile.’

‘The baton is passed on and it could not have gone to a more deserving guy. These Brits are creating their own Golden Era.’

Steve Cram at the Lindsays Sports Forum (photo by Jamie Simpson)

With Jakob Ingebrigtsen in second and American Yared Nuguse third, what a joy to watch Neil Gourley and Jake Wightman complete the top five. Both recorded PB runs – Neil at 3:47.74 and Jake and 3:47.74.

Think about that for a moment: an aggregate three miles by three Scots in somewhere around 11 minutes on 20 seconds.

No wonder we are claiming Scotland are unofficial ‘World Champions’ in the Men’s Mile (three to count). As it was put on our social channels: ‘What a pity there isn’t a Mile Relay World Champs!!

If there are no actual medals for this, then the fringe benefit in terms of the Scottish Athletics (or athletics in Scotland) brand is not in dispute.

Josh, Neil and Jake are clear success stories for our pathway and all three reference this often ( and usually unprompted). Their appreciation for the ‘system’ in Scotland extends to volunteers at clubs, Officials and, of course, the coaches at grassroots level.

It also seems to help get athletics in Scotland noticed.

Citius Mag is a major track and field site in America with global following. They Tweeted: ‘What a race for Scotland !!

‘Three Scots go sub 3:48 in the Bowerman Mile, with Josh Kerr taking the British Record, Neil Gourley in fourth in 3:47.74 and Jake Wightman fifth in 3:47.83.

‘Scotland has a population of 5.4 million; less than the state of Minnesota.’

Brilliant. And, as we responded: ‘We’ve been trying to tell you this for the past decade or so . . .’

The response from Minnesota Athletics is not yet clear.

Tags: Allison Curbishley, Josh Kerr, Steve Cram

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