Uganda’s Thomas Ayeko dominant on half marathon debut as Britain’s Gemma Steel clocks course record on way to claiming Bupa Great Birmingham Run title
Gemma Steel bettered her own course record on her way to claiming her second Bupa Great Birmingham Run title on Sunday, while Thomas Ayeko was dominant on his half marathon debut.
Both claimed clear victories, Steel taking 27 seconds off her personal best in recording a 70:19 course best, while Ugandan runner Ayeko, 11th in the World 10,000m in Moscow this summer, finished just over half a minute ahead of runner-up Chris Thompson with 62:32.
Fresh from posting the fastest stage at the national four-stage road relays, Steel adds this victory to a number of fine performances of late, including wins at the Bupa Great North 10k and Bupa Great Yorkshire Run earlier this year.
Her 70:19 on a tough course boosts her to ninth on the UK all-time list and the John Nuttall-coached runner admitted after the race how she is looking forward to running a marathon in future, telling AW after her win in Birmingham that she “could have gone around again”.
Steel and Purity Kimetto, a late entry into the race, left the women’s field behind early on, but the Kenyan – winner at the recent Cardiff Half Marathon and Perkins Great Eastern Run Half Marathon - could not keep up from around the four mile-mark and had to settle for the runner-up spot with 72:48 ahead of Ukraine’s Olga Kotovska with 73:12.
The runner-up place in the men’s race was not so clear-cut and, with Ayeko wrapping up the win, the battle was on between 2010 European 10,000m silver medallist Thompson and the USA’s Abdi Abdirahman. Kicking with around 300m to go, the Aldershot, Farnham & District runner surged ahead, crossing the line in 63:03, five seconds clear of his American rival.
Pre-race favourite Tariku Bekele was the first runner from the lead pack to drop at around the halfway mark, the Ethiopian eventually finishing fifth behind the the aptly named Australian Collis Birmingham with 64:36.
Thompson was another to reveal to AW that a marathon is certainly on the cards for the near future, possibly in London 2014, while he says the Great South Run and perhaps the Euro Cross could also be targets.
Wheelchair racer Simon Lawson followed up his recent Great Scottish Run victory with a win in Birmingham, clocking a 51:49 course record to finish clear of Brett Crossley and Matthew Clarke with 61:01 and 61:43 respectively in a race which saw six-time Paralymic gold medallist David Weir suffer a puncture and withdraw early on.
Another course record was set in the women’s race, with Tanni Grey-Thompson-coached athlete Jade Jones crossing the line in 69:01.
» For full results from the Bupa Great Birmingham Run click here
Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon
Over at the inaugural Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon where a £12,000 prize pot – the biggest of any UK marathon outside of London – was up for grabs, and Kenyans Edwin Korir and Helen Koskei took the honours. With 2:13:31, Korir comfortably won ahead of compatriot John Mutai with 2:20:35 and Tomas Abyu with 2:22:23.
Holly Rush claimed the runner-up spot in the women’s race with 2:46:26 behind Koskei’s 2:40:06, while Philippa Taylor was third with 2:49:11.