Runners at last year’s Great South Run had the tail end of Storm Brian to contend with, but what a difference a year makes. Yesterday the mass start runners were being advised to take on plenty of water and wear sun screen, such were the unseasonably warm and sunny conditions in the coastal City of Portsmouth.
This hugely popular event incorporated the England Athletics 10 Mile championships. Over 10,000 runners took part with every type of runner catered for, from the fun runners, charity runners, club runners and elite.
The question to be answered on the day was whether the irrepressible Chris Thompson (Aldershot, Farnham & District, Alan Storey) could make it a hat-trick of wins at Portsmouth. He had some strong competition to overcome first, not least club mate Andy Vernon (Aldershot, Farnham & District, self coached), along with some of the young guns like Petros Surafel (Thames Valley Harriers, Mick Woods) Mahamed Mahamed (Southampton, Peter Haynes) and Alex Teuten (Southampton, Roderick Lock) all keen to make their mark on the roads. However, Thompson had stretched the lead away from Vernon before the long turn back towards the finish and keeping to the script crossed the line first to make it a hat-trick of wins. Three in a row as Great South Run winner and three in a row as England Champion. Andy Vernon held on to second comfortably with Petros Surafel taking bronze in both the overall race and the England Championships.
Thompson who has been preparing for the New York marathon in two weeks time is clearly in superb form with his time of 46:56 on Sunday being a personal best over the 10 mile distance and will be looking for a quick time in New York.
In the women’s race it looked likely that battle for the race winwould come from either Scotland’s Steph Twell (Aldershot, Farnham & District, Geoff Wightman) or Eilish McColgan (Dundee Hawkhill / Pitreavie, Liz Nuttall), both in current good form or the 2017 race winner Gemma Steel (Charnwood,Liz Nuttall) who has performed well on this course numerous times. 54 minutes and 43 seconds later it was Ellish McColgan who powered her way to the finish line ahead of Twell. In the overall race Steel had to settle for third on this occasion in a respectable 56:56, but enough to secure her the England Champion title. Steel was joined on the podium by Calli Thackery (Hallamshire Harriers, Joe Franklin) who took silver in the England Championships and delighted Laura Brenton from local club Southampton AC earning her first England Championship medal in bronze.
“I’m really pleased to retain the title again." said Steel who has had a busy few weeks having represented England at the Cardiff Half Marathon earlier in the month. She now takes a short break from racing and to turn her attention to cross country and the British Cross Challenge at Milton Keynes next month.
England Championships - Men
1st – 46:56 - Chris Thompson (club: Aldershot Farnham & District AC, coach: Alan Storey)
2nd – 47:27 – Andy Vernon (club: Aldershot Farnham & District AC, self coached)
3rd – 48:05 – Petros Surafel (club: Thames Valley Harriers, coach: Mick Woods)
England Championships - Women
1st – 56:56 – Gemma Steel (club: Charnwood AC, coach: Liz Nuttall)
2nd – 58:48 – Calli Thackery (club: Hallamshire Harriers, coach: Joe Franklin)
3rd – 59:58 – Laura Brenton (club Southampton AC)
Photos by Mark Shearman