9th Dec, 2016

Runners rise to the second city challenge

Liam Moakes 22nd Oct, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

COMPETITORS from across the UK and around the world headed to England’s second city to compete in the Morrisons Great Birmingham Run half-marathon on Sunday, writes David Jones.

The course takes in some of the city’s most iconic sights including the Bullring, Cadbury World in Bournville and Edgbaston cricket ground and live music from bands keeps the runners motivated every step of the way as thousands of supporters turn out to cheer finishers across the line on Broad Street in the heart of the city centre.

It’s a family affair

SIXTEEN of Stratford Athletic Club’s finest lined up at the start of this prestigious event and several of them commented on both the great atmosphere and wonderful organisation of the race.

This contingent included two parent and offspring pairings plus a married couple and not for the first time Zoe Chandler and her mother Alison Bagnall were both competing in this race.

Zoe was running in the colours of Birmingham University and recorded a simply stunning time of 81 minutes, 44 seconds. Zoe knew she had trained well for the race and, as such, she felt confident.

Having done the race several times before, she knew how tough the last couple of miles were, but she felt strong throughout and is simply over the moon at finishing a hugely impressive tenth lady overall and sixth in her age group.

Mother Alison also finished sixth in her age group and was 71st lady to finish in an extremely impressive 97.22.

For Phil Howell and son Anthony this was the first time they had competed in the same half-marathon and Phil went one better than the two ladies by finishing fifth in his age group.

His time of 85.11 placed him 192nd overall and it was a minute quicker than his recent Kenilworth Half-Marathon time.

Phil mentioned how great it was to run with Anthony, while Anthony said his aim was to run a personal best, which he did, despite his training having been limited.

He also mentioned how good it was to run with his father, and although he was beaten by him this time, he feels he has got time on his side to turn the tables.

While drawing up plans to run this race, husband and wife Oliver and Aimee Spicer decided the best way to avoid family conflict and disharmony was to run the race together and the strategy worked perfectly as both ran a none too shabby time of 2:25.13.

James Cusack’s superb time of 91.46 was almost three minutes quicker than his time for the Worcester Half-Marathon in April.

He was really pleased with this time and mentioned how great it was to see several Stratford supporters cheering him on along the route.

James is still seeking his holy grail of a sub-1:30 half-marathon and, with him competing in forthcoming Dublin half, he may well achieve the feat in that fair city.

Ewan Rayment was another runner who had set himself a target of sub-90-minutes in only his third attempt at this distance and all was going well until mile nine when he started to struggle and then he hit THE HILL and at that stage it became all about finishing!

Despite this he still managed an excellent PB of 91.54 and he is looking forward to running another half soon, when parenthood allows!

Sam Nicholson has had a heavy schedule of races recently – indeed this was his second half-marathon in successive weeks – having competed in Oxford the previous weekend.

His excellent time of 94.52 was slower than the previous effort but it is likely the club coach would say he did not allowed himself enough recovery time between races.

It would not seem right reporting on a half-marathon which did not include that redoubtable pair of James Coy and Richard Hartwell.

James enjoyed the race but was another one who found the hill at mile 11 a real struggle. Still, his time of 94.16 was only 15 seconds slower than a much flatter Milton Keynes in May and overall he has shown considerable improvement in the six half marathons he has competed in this year.

Richard, who has also competed in those six races, recorded a time of 2:03.37 – a massive nine-minute improvement on his time in the Great North Run just a month ago.

For James Lawson it was a case of another week, another half-marathon. Amazingly, he was competing in his fourth half-marathon in just six weeks.

James continues to improve and, although he was annoyed with his time of 2:00.04, a cruel four seconds off his target time of two hours, he really has nothing to be annoyed about.

New club member Alan Wright should be more than happy with his time of 1:56.31 as it was almost nine minutes quicker than when he last ran this race five years ago.

The club seems awash with runners who cannot resist the challenge of running 13.1 miles. Debbie Edkins is another of these and on Sunday she completed the race in a time of 2:03.04, which was a full three minutes quicker than her time at Cheltenham three weeks earlier.

Sheila Smith professed herself to be just a bit chuffed with her time of 2:11.28 and she has every right to be.

2015 has seen Clive Shepherd embark on a demanding programme of park runs and 10k races, enabling him to step up to a half-marathon and comfortably record a sub-2:30 time of 2:25.35.

The race was won by Chris Thompson in 63.00 and first lady finisher was Dominika Napieraj in 73.39.