London Marathon champion leads Kenyan top four as Emma Mitchell is best of the Brits on her half-marathon debut
Vivian Cheruiyot proved her preparations for November’s TCS New York City Marathon are on track as she won her second Simplyhealth Great North Run, regaining the title she first claimed in 2016.
Improving her half-marathon PB by a single second, the Olympic 5000m champion and London Marathon winner ran 67:43 to beat the time she clocked when finishing runner-up to Mary Keitany in South Shields last year.
In warm and sunny but blustery conditions, Brigid Kosgei (67:52) and Joyciline Jepkosgei (68:10) followed Cheruiyot over the finish line to complete a Kenyan clean sweep as their compatriot Linet Masai was fourth in 68:11.
Cheruiyot was always to the fore in her first race since her marathon win in the UK capital in April. She was joined by Kosgei, Jepkosgei, Masai, New Zealand’s Camille Buscomb and USA’s Stephanie Bruce in a lead group which went through 5km in 16:43 and she passed 10km in 33:03.
At 15km the clock showed 48:35 as the lead group was down to Cheruiyot, Kosgei, Jepkosgei and Masai. Their compatriot Betsy Saina had dropped out by this point and after laying on the ground and holding her left leg, she was supported by members of the public until medical attention arrived.
Cheruiyot then made her move, with only Kosgei able to go with her. Through 20km, Cheruiyot was a stride ahead of her rival and the gap only continued to grow, ending in a seven-second margin of victory.
“I am happy to be a winner today and I am looking forward to being here next year,” said the 34-year-old, who like men’s winner Mo Farah reiterated that her track days are now well and truly over.
“This was preparation for New York, to test myself. I now know where I am and I am going to train for my next marathon.”
Kosgei is in training for her next marathon too, as she’s due to race in Chicago next month, but she struggled with pain in her knees and hamstrings which forced her to ease her pace and concede defeat.
Jepkosgei has also had injury trouble since her world half-marathon record of 64:51 in Valencia last October and was pleased with her performance as a good test of her fitness as she eyes a move up to the marathon.
“My coach is preparing me for a marathon,” said the 25-year-old. “He told me that I will go for training and then he will see how my body is. It might be end of this year or next year.”
When it comes to new events, Northern Ireland’s Emma Mitchell excelled on her own debut as she finished as the top UK athlete, clocking 74:38.
“I’ve a lot to learn and a lot to gain but it’s a solid start at half-marathon,” said the 25-year-old, who also has future marathon plans. “I got detached early on. It’s longer than I’m used to so I have to get physically and mentally stronger.”
Rotherham’s Hayley Carruthers is another athlete who is making big strides in the sport and despite only taking running really seriously since last year, she is getting ready to represent England at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon next month.
She impressed in Newcastle as she ran a big PB of 74:46 to finish ninth.
“I’m really pleased,” she said. “That’s a nice confidence boost (ahead of Toronto). Whatever my coach (Gary Warhurst) is doing with me is a miracle!”
Lily Partridge was back in action after dropping out of the European Championships marathon with stomach cramps and she clocked 75:16 to complete the top 10, despite feeling discomfort in her plantar fascia.
Aly Dixon had been forced to withdraw from the Berlin event through injury and she was also racing in Newcastle, clocking 75:42 in 11th.
A bruised Charlotte Purdue clocked 76:50 in 14th after running much of the race as the top-placed Brit. The 27-year-old later explained how she felt dizzy at around the 11-mile mark and then fell, bashing her quad, but she didn’t want to drop out of the race following her DNF at the European Championships.
There was an elite wheelchair race double for Weir Archer Academy athletes as Poland’s Martyna Snopek claimed the women’s title in 63:02 after David Weir’s seventh win in a course record.
In the men’s race, Mo Farah secured a fifth consecutive victory, clocking 59:26 as he prepares for the Chicago Marathon. Read more here.
» See the September 13 issue of AW for full coverage from the Simplyhealth Great North Run