Bury host first marathon, while Ipswich Harriers win medals
PUBLISHED: 16:00 31 October 2017
It is the time of year when road running and cross country overlap, the former spearheaded by a number of autumn marathons, and the latter just clicking into gear ahead of the long winter months.
East Anglia has been to the fore in both modes of running over the last couple of weeks.
On the roads, Bury St Edmunds proudly staged its first-ever marathon on Sunday, having been renowned for its popular Bury 20-mile road race stretching four decades.
And on the cross country circuit, Ipswich Harriers’ under-15 girls’ squad scooped bronze medals at the recent South of England Relays.
Before I come to the main event – the Abbeycroft Leisure Bury St Edmunds Marathon – it is well worth praising the achievements of the trio of Holly Fisher, Tilly Aldis and Katie Challinor for their medal-winning performance at the annual Southern Cross Country Relays.
The Harriers’ junior girls finished third, behind Blackheath & Bromley Harriers, and Herne Hill Harriers, on an overcast day at Wormwood Scrubs Park.
Fisher was in the lead at the end of a very fast first leg, clocking 7mins 24secs for the 2K route before handing over to team-mate Aldis, who was a year younger than most of her competitors.
Aldis pushed hard to retain a top-three place, recording a swift 7:39 to reach the changeover in third spot.
Challinor ran a strong anchor leg (7:35) and was closing in on second place, but was just held off by Herne Hill’s last-leg runner.
In the final standings, Blackheath won with a combined 22:02 for the 3x2K event, followed by Herne Hill (22:30) and Ipswich Harriers (22:38) in third.
Meanwhile, on the roads, Oliver Knott, Stephen Dunne, Robert Smailes and Dom Melero were the individual men’s winners at Sunday’s Bury St Edmunds Running Festival, staged from Abbeycroft Leisure’s Skyliner Leisure Centre in Moreton Hall.
A total of 912 runners took part in this inaugural event, organised by HaverSports, which featured races over the marathon distance (26.2 miles), plus a half-marathon, 10K and family fun run.
Just two runners beat the three-hour barrier in the marathon, which followed a rural route out to Little Whelnetham and Rougham on a two-lapper.
Oliver Knott won in 2hrs 51mins 43secs, followed by Andrew Southwood (2:58:26) in second spot. Southwood was also the first over-40 veteran.
Dave Solomon, of Felixstowe Road Runners, was third overall and also the leading over-50 veteran in 3:04.28.
Solomon has had a busy year, with the highlight being a double-marathon ultra race in South Africa. He finished the famous Comrades Marathon in 9:46:13 (86.73K distance) in June.
Puri Mesequer Bernal won the inaugural ladies’ Bury Marathon title in 3:51:21, ahead of Caroline Burgess (3:58.35) and Shirley Fowlet (4:00:29).
The supporting half-marathon race, sponsored by Kent Blaxill, was won by Stephen Dunne in 1:21:03. He was just 22 seconds ahead of runner-up Patrick Hannah (1:21:25).
Garry Cullum, a member of Felixstowe Road Runners, took third in 1:21:56 and was also the leading veteran. Cullum ran an impressive 2:58:12 at the Manchester Marathon last April.
Local runner, Claire Dann, was the first female finisher over 13.1 miles in 1:34.20. Over-35 athlete Dann, of Saint Edmund Pacers, has a personal best of 1:30.26, set at St Neots in 2012.
Jess Gooderham, also of the Bury-based Pacers, was second in 1:39.38. Gooderham has completed several half-marathons this year, including Bungay (1:37:11) in April and Stowmarket (1:38:54) in March. They were warm-ups for the London Marathon, which she completed in 3:35:19.
There was a glitch on the day, with a marshalling error leading to all the participants in the 10K race, with the exception of the winner, covering less than the 10K distance (nearly half-a-mile short).
Robert Smailes, following the lead cyclist, was the only runner to complete the full 10K route. He triumphed in 35mins 06secs.
Smailes, who now competes in the under-23 age group, is a member of West Suffolk AC and also runs for Royal Air Force.
Stowmarket’s Tamara Jordan was the leading female in the 10K event, while Sam Sadler and Tom Kingsnorth were Smailes’ closest rivals in the men’s race.
The fourth event, the St Eds’ family fun run, held over a 1.22-mile course, was won by Bury-based Dom Melero (40-49 age group) in 8:43, followed by youngsters Samuel Blackwell (8:44) and Seb Melero (8:58). Isabel Moore was the first girl home in 10:02.