Beth Potter’s stunning 5k run unlikely to get even UK record status


Beth Potter is facing fresh disappointment as her world record-beating 5km road time is highly unlikely to be ratified as a UK record, the Guardian understands, as the timekeeper did not have a national level qualification and there was no referee on site.

The triathlon specialist surprised everybody – including herself – by running 14:41 at the Podium 5km event in Barrowford in Lancashire on Saturday night to beat the world benchmark set by Beatrice Chepkoech by two seconds and Paula Radcliffe’s British best by 10sec. But it has since become clear it will not count as a world record under World Athletics rules, as no drug testers were on site to take “the first passing of urine”.

Potter had still hoped her time would officially break the national record – given UK Athletics rules are slightly different. While it requires athletes to have an immediate doping test after they set a national record, its rules also add a caveat: “If there is no one present from a testing agency at the event where you set your British record … the ratification panel will take into consideration the fact that there was no opportunity to provide a sample at the time.”

It is understood Potter was visited by testers on Sunday evening. However, she has now fallen foul of another part of the UKA rulebook, as its rules state there must also be a “level 4” qualified referee and timekeeper on site – essentially of national standard. A ratification panel is expected to meet this month to confirm the decision.

Potter’s run has again reignited the debate over athletics “super shoes” but speaking to Athletics Weekly, she admitted she would have been satisfied to break her personal best of 15:24 and had only entered the event on a whim. “I thought the clock was out,” she said. “I was shellshocked, to be honest. I thought 15:15 would be a really good run for me because I’ve been focusing on other parts of my training this year.”

Potter is No 5 in the world in triathlon but was not selected for the Team GB squad for Tokyo, which was named in 2019, and is undecided whether to attempt to qualify for the 5,000m or 10,000m instead

“Obviously, my aim was to qualify for the triathlon team but unfortunately that’s not currently available to me at the moment because they chose the team at the back end of 2019,” she said. “It has to be a miracle for me to make that team. But I’m not giving up on it.”