Double bronze for England at inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships
England’s men’s and women’s teams both came away from the first staging of the Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships. As well as medals the team also picked up a host of PBs in the event in Cardiff.
The IAAF silver label record breaking course and inaugural Commonwealth half Marathon lived up to expectations and with perfect racing conditions produced some superb performances over the Half-Marathon distance.
From early on in the race it was clear the men’s individual winner looked likely to come from either Kenya, Uganda or Australia. An interesting battle developed as Kenya’s John Lotiang dropped off the pace in the final stages and Australia’s Jack Rayner making his move in the downhill section of the course to break away from the two Ugandan athletes. Rayner opened up enough of a gap to deter a counter attack and crossed the line in 61:01. Uganda’s Fred Musobo finished in second in 61:09, whilst team mate Timothy Toroitich (Uganda) faded badly in the final stages to finish in 61:17. Kenya having to settle for 4th place on this occasion with John Lotiang finishing in 61:25. The host nation were delighted to see Welshman Dewi Griffith routing in a strong performance to finish in the top ten in 62:54.
In the women’s race Ugandas’ Juliet Chekwel managed to fend of Australia’s bid to make it a double victory 69:45, with team mate Doreen Chesang taking bronze in 71:10. However, Celia Sullohern (Australia) did hold onto silver in 71:04. Tracy Barlow was the first home nations athlete and finished 5th overall.
The England Team certainly seized the day and the Cardiff course rewarded the athletes with fast times and team bronze for both the men and the women.
With the team scores being based on accumulative times the fact that six members of the eight strong team set personal bests was significant. In fact, between them the 6 athletes reduced their PBs by collective total of 4mins 48 seconds!
All four men set personal bests with Mohamud Aadan (Club: Thames Valley Harriers, Coach: Paul Oppe) leading the team home in 62:31, bettering his time set in Valencia at the World Half earlier in the year. A delighted Matt Clowes Matthew Clowes (Club: Cardiff AC) who trains in and around the city of Cardiff smashed his PB by over a minute to run 63:27. Tom Wade (Club: Aldershot, Farnham & District AC ) who got a late call up to the team made the trip over from his home base in Denmark to proudly run for his country and was rewarded with a 45 second PB finishing in 63:40, whilst Alex Teuten (Club: Southampton AC, Coach: Rod Lock) took 42 seconds off his best to run 64:54.
Mo Aadan said after the race it was, “such a good feeling to be chasing some of Africa’s finest down the finishing straight and a fantastic experience on a global half marathon stage. [I’m] delighted to clock a new PB as well as winning a team bronze, [it’s] beyond my imagination.”
Teuten who was the fourth member of team home was thrilled to be rewarded with a medal also. “I’m so proud of the team and testimony to the performances today is that everyone came away with a bronze team medal.”
Tracy Barlow (Club: Thames Valley Harriers, Coach: Nick Anderson) led the women’s team home to bronze bettering her best to run 72:17. Gemma Steel (Club: Charnwood AC, Coach: Liz Nuttall) always contributes strongly to a representative team performance regardless and a solid 73:48 just ahead of team mate Lucy Reid (Club: Tonbridge AC, Coach: Richard Owen) in 73:49. The Tonbridge AC athletes had rearranged a trip to Australia to seize her opportunity to make her debut for England, a decision that was rewarded with a superb new PB and a commonwealth bronze medal. Reid’s performance like many on the team summed up what it means to represent your country. Dani Nimmock (Club: City of Norwich, Coach: Pauline Ash) was satisfied with her 74:30 only just short of her PB and now looks towards the Frankfurt marathon in 3 week’s time and will take great confidence from today’s performance. She commented, “It was an honour to race as part of Team England in the inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon Champs today. It was an incredible experience of elite racing and has given me confidence for my upcoming marathon. The support from England Athletics through the marathon programme has helped me steer my running to a greater level this year and a Commonwealth team bronze medal is the icing on the cake.”
So whilst not quite home turf, the home advantage was there to be taken and the England team did just that.
Team Leader, Charlotte Fisher said, “A big thank you to our Welsh hosts. Cardiff provided a fantastic opportunity in terms of the competition and the course and for athletes from across the Commonwealth, but especially for the Home Nations countries for whom this was on their doorstep. The England athletes really pulled together as a team and I’m delighted that they were rewarded with some great personal bests and a commonwealth team bronze medal. It was inspirational to witness what it means to wear the England vest. And when the likes of Lucy Reid grab their opportunity to run at short notice and then take two and a half minutes off a previous best and come away with a medal, it really does bring home what a special thing it is to get to run for your country. Let’s hope the Commonwealth Half Marathon gets repeated in four year’s time.”
(Times given are gun times & subject to official confirmation)