Great East­ern Run - Half-marathon ‘novices’ fin­ish first and sec­ond

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - NEWS - By Bob French

It was one sur­prise after an­other as the drama of the 2017 Perkins Great East­ern Run un­folded on Sun­day.

First of all we wit­nessed two half-marathon ‘novices’ fin­ish first and sec­ond, next we dis­cov­ered that the first lo­cal to fin­ish was a run­ner who’d been plagued by ill­ness all year, and fi­nally the red-hot favourite to win the women’s race failed to com­plete the 13.1 mile course.

Army man Tom Evans, a 25 year-old cap­tain serv­ing with the Welsh Guards based at Pir­bright, took the hon­ours in a time of 68mins 40secs.

But, look­ing at the pre-race form­book, he was not ex­pected to be among the fron­trun­ners.

He had after all only run the dis­tance once be­fore, clock­ing a mod­est 73:45 in the Barns Green Half-Marathon in Sus­sex last year.

Yet smash­ing his per­sonal best (PB) by over five min­utes to win the race was no big deal for a man still find­ing his feet in the sport.

The for­mer Eng­land Un­der 17 rugby player from Lewes in Sus­sex said: “I just don’t know what I’m ca­pa­ble of yet. I only started run­ning prop­erly in April and to be per­fectly hon­est I don’t know what my best dis­tance is. It’s too early to say what I’ll be best at.

“I see my­self as an ul­tra dis­tance racer re­ally and I think the short­est dis­tance I’ll do will be the marathon.

“I was only us­ing the Great East­ern Run to get in some speed­work ahead of the Frank­furt Marathon which I’ll be do­ing in three weeks time.

“Con­di­tions were great, the course was nice and flat and the sup­port was good. I saw a cou­ple of Army mates out there and I re­ally en­joyed my­self.”

Evans has al­ready made a big im­pres­sion on the ul­tra­dis­tance scene and that could well be where his fu­ture lies when he leaves the Army in Jan­uary to be­come a full-time pro­fes­sional ath­lete.

In April he took part in the Marathon des Sables mul­ti­stage ul­tra marathon and fin­ished third in an event that bills it­self as the ‘tough­est foot race on earth’.

It in­volves travers­ing 250k (156 miles) across the Sa­hara Desert in Morocco over six days, car­ry­ing ev­ery­thing you need for the jour­ney in tem­per­a­tures of up to 50C.

And that third place was the high­est for a Bri­ton since the race was first run in 1986.

Evans is also tack­ling an­other 250k event in Costa Rica in Fe­bru­ary and then in May it’s the 2018 Trail World Cham­pi­onships in Spain.

Run­ner-up Wil­liam Strange­way stayed with Evans for about 12 miles but when the sol­dier kicked, the Lin­coln Welling­ton run­ner couldn’t re­spond. He even­tu­ally fin­ished in 68:57 and he too was hav­ing only his sec­ond out­ing over the dis­tance.

“I’d only done one half­marathon and that was on the coast at Cleethor­pes and it was very wet and windy,” he said.

“To­day con­di­tions were ideal and I smashed my PB by about four min­utes. But I’m a track and field man re­ally. I nor­mally only do 800m and 1500m races.”

Third-placed Ben Livesey (70:29) from Notts AC and the RAF came into the race with the fastest PB of 64:40.

“But I did that back in 2013,” he stressed. “I’m 39 years-old now and I was just pleased to be in­volved at the head of the race for a while. The three of us were to­gether for seven miles but then I dropped off the pace. Tom did all the work early on.”

First lo­cal run­ner home was Steve Robinson from Peter­bor­ough Ath­letic Club and that was an­other sur­prise, cer­tainly to him.

The 34 year-old ph­syio­ther­a­pist from RAF Wit­ter­ing claimed sev­enth place in 72:31 in a rare 2017 out­ing.

“I only en­tered at the last minute. I’ve been ill so much this year. I’ve hardly raced at all,” he said. “Noth­ing spe­cific - just tired all the time. I think it’s hav­ing kids - they wear you out.”

And there was yet an­other sur­prise in the ladies race.

Kenyan ace Caro­line Nyaguthi was red-hot favourite but pulled up in­jured after 12 miles.

That left the way clear for 22 year-old Cam­bridge & Co­leridge run­ner Ge­orgina Sch­wien­ing to fin­ish as lead­ing lady. She was 32nd over­all in 75:26.

Sec­ond fe­male was Hay­ley Kuter of Sal­ford Har­ri­ers (76th in 79:01) and third Hay­ley Munn from Northamp­ton Road Run­ners (79th in 79:08).


Main pic­ture: Tom Evans leads at the half­way mark from Wil­liam Strange­way and Ben Livesey. Top right: Evans crosses the line. Bot­tom right: The 1-2-3.

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