Sim­ply­health Great South Run

THOMP­SON AND McCOL­GAN SHINE IN AMAZ­ING CON­DI­TIONS AS SOUTH­SEA WEL­COMES OVER 20,000 RUN­NERS FOR GREAT SOUTH RUN WEEK­END

Athletics Weekly - - News - RE­PORT: JES­SICA WHITTINGTON PIC­TURES: MARK SHEAR­MAN

HIS­TORY was made at the 29th edi­tion of the Sim­ply­health Great South Run as Chris Thomp­son pow­ered to an un­prece­dented hat-trick and Eil­ish McCol­gan fol­lowed in the foot­steps of her mother to de­liver on her de­but.

While Thomp­son be­came the first ath­lete to win the fa­mous Portsmouth and South­sea 10-miler three con­sec­u­tive times, McCol­gan also com­pleted a hat-trick of sorts – adding her win to the brace of ti­tles claimed by her mum and coach, Liz, in the 1990s.

Andy Ver­non and Steph Twell both put up strong chal­lenges but even­tu­ally had to set­tle for sec­ond, with Pet­ros Su­rafel and reign­ing women’s cham­pion Gemma Steel com­plet­ing the podi­ums.

Be­hind them, over 20,000 run­ners also took on the 10mile chal­lenge in un­sea­son­ably warm and still con­di­tions, while the pre­vi­ous day’s pro­gramme in­cluded the Sim­ply­health Great South 5k, Ju­nior and Mini Great South Run events and in­au­gu­ral Sim­ply­health Ca­nine Run.

En­tries are al­ready open for the 2019 Great South Run, which will take place on

Oc­to­ber 20.

Men

CHRIS THOMP­SON is work­ing to­wards what he hopes will be a marathon “re­birth” and the 37-year-old proved his prepa­ra­tions for next month’s TCS New York City Marathon are well on track as he ran his fastest ever 10-mile race de­spite be­ing in heavy train­ing.

The Alder­shot, Farn­ham and Dis­trict ath­lete clocked 46:56 to im­prove on his pre­vi­ous best of 47:23, set when win­ning the same event in 2016, and be­come the first ath­lete to win the race three times in a row.

Only 1990 Euro­pean 5000m sil­ver medal­list Gary Staines – cham­pion in 1993, 1994 and 1996 – also has three ti­tles to his name and he too was guided by Thomp­son’s coach Alan Storey dur­ing his ca­reer.

While Thomp­son was feel­ing the ef­fects of his marathon train­ing, his club-mate Andy Ver­non was also rac­ing on tired legs, hav­ing claimed a half­marathon win in Manch­ester the week­end be­fore.

He couldn’t stick with Thomp­son’s pace in the fi­nal few miles but still ran a PB of 47:29 for sec­ond, while late en­try Pet­ros Su­rafel of Thames Val­ley was third in a 48:05 life­time best.

Thomp­son and Ver­non had

been joined by Libyan Olympic marathoner Mo­hamed Hrezi through three miles in 14:12 be­fore the Bri­tish pair pushed ahead and were clear to­gether through five miles.

Af­ter go­ing through seven miles in 32:52, Thomp­son kicked again and, with­out the usual windy con­di­tions to con­tend with on the fi­nal two-mile seafront stretch, he moved fur­ther away from Ver­non to cross the line over half a minute clear.

Be­hind them, an­other half a minute back, Su­rafel had moved up for third in his first race since June af­ter in­jury, beat­ing Hrezi who fin­ished fourth in 48:32 and Ire­land’s Com­mon­wealth marathon fourth-placer Kevin Seaward, who was fifth in 48:41.

Lo­cal Southamp­ton ath­letes Ma­hamed Ma­hamed and Alex Teuten were sixth and eighth re­spec­tively, split by Notts’

Doug Mus­son in sev­enth. IAU/ ITRA Trail World Cham­pi­onships medal­list Tom Evans was ninth.

Fur­ther down the field, Nigel Gates – who is one of Bri­tain’s great­est ever masters run­ners – was top M65, clock­ing a 62:28 chip time.

“I’m pleased - not just be­cause I got the three-peat but be­cause I can’t be­lieve I’ve just run a PB,” said Thomp­son, who con­tin­ues to en­joy an im­pres­sive re­turn to form af­ter years of in­jury strug­gles. “I’ve run 10 miles faster through a half-marathon, but it’s an of­fi­cial PB and it was my fastest of the three (wins). I can’t be­lieve I’m this strong to have done that.

“I’ve got to re­cover now,” stressed the 2010 Euro­pean 10,000m sil­ver medal­list and re­cent Great Scot­tish Run win­ner. “Andy made it tough. I ac­tu­ally wanted it to be quick and he did push it and I was quite sur­prised by the splits but I was also equally sur­prised that, once I got to seven miles, the strength started to come through and I just rolled with it.

“I can’t em­pha­sise how happy I am, but at the same time – New York. I’ve got to turn my at­ten­tion to that now. This is all great but I will be mis­er­able for months if I don’t get two weeks’ time right.”

Thomp­son ran 2:11:19 on his marathon de­but in Lon­don in 2014 but an Achilles in­jury which re­quired surgery at the start of 2015 threat­ened to end his ca­reer. How­ever, he re­turned to ac­tion that au­tumn and has since raced two more marathons, clock­ing 2:15:05 in 2015 and 2:24:11 in 2016 in the UK cap­i­tal.

On his ex­pec­ta­tions now for

the 26.2-miler on Novem­ber 4, he added: “It has made me go ‘okay, re­spect what’s pos­si­ble’ but it’s one of those things with marathons – I’ve got no ex­pec­ta­tion other than ex­e­cute the best race I can then I’ll deal with the re­sult later.

“I’m do­ing ev­ery­thing I can to put my­self in the best po­si­tion and that’s all I can do.”

Ver­non also has his eye on a marathon but will likely look to make his de­but over 26.2 miles next spring.

“I tried to break him and, in the end, I broke my­self,” said the dou­ble 2014 Euro­pean medal­list, whose wife – fel­low run­ner Tasha – was due to give birth to their first child the next day. “It just shows what marathon train­ing does to you. It makes you so strong and he was able to kick on in the last cou­ple of miles and I ac­tu­ally slowed down a lit­tle bit.”

Rac­ing for the first time since hav­ing been side­lined with an Achilles in­jury, Su­rafel made a strong re­turn to build on his eighth-place fin­ish in 2016.

The Mick Woods-coached ath­lete had also suf­fered food poi­son­ing a cou­ple of weeks be­fore and de­cided to race just a cou­ple of days ahead of the event.

“Two years ago I ran 49:35 when I was un­der-20 so I was hop­ing to PB and get top five but as the race went on I felt re­ally good,” he said. “When I saw third dy­ing off, from five or six miles it just kicked in and I went from there.”

Women

IN THE days lead­ing up to her long­est ever race, Euro­pean 5000m sil­ver medal­list Eil­ish McCol­gan had ad­mit­ted that she was push­ing her­self out of her com­fort zone and had no ex­pec­ta­tions of what she might be able to achieve. How­ever, with a marathon in her sights at some point in her fu­ture, the Scot was keen to take the next step and it proved to be a suc­cess­ful one.

Rac­ing on the same streets as her mum and coach – 1991 world 10,000m cham­pion and Olympic medal­list Liz, who won this event in 1995 and 1997 – McCol­gan clocked 54:43 to win ahead of her fel­low Scot

Steph Twell’s 55:16 and reign­ing cham­pion Gemma Steel’s 56:56.

Twell had been push­ing the pace and a lead group of five went through two miles in 11:17. The four-mile mark was passed in 22:28 and the 2016 Euro­pean 5000m bronze medal­list looked strong as she kicked on through six miles in 33:53.

Twell then cre­ated a gap on her ri­vals but McCol­gan started to reel her in and as they turned back along the seafront for the fi­nal cou­ple of miles the two Scot­tish run­ners were side by side.

Still feel­ing good in the clos­ing stages, McCol­gan – wear­ing the colours of her club Dundee Hawkhill Har­ri­ers in the ab­sence of a kit spon­sor – strode away to add her own name to the event’s roll of hon­our.

“I don’t even feel that tired be­cause I’m just so happy,” said the de­lighted 27-year-old, who had not long re­turned from her break fol­low­ing the track sea­son. “That was such a strange ex­pe­ri­ence. I didn’t know what to ex­pect and to be hon­est that was prob­a­bly what helped me in a way.

“My mum said to me: ‘Don’t look at your watch, don’t look at times, just be com­pet­i­tive and race the other girls’, and that’s what I did to­day,” she added.

“I was al­most wait­ing for my legs to give up. I got to about 10km and I thought ‘right, now we’re go­ing into a bit of un­known’ and I al­most felt like it was go­ing to hap­pen at some point – I felt they were just go­ing to seize. But they didn’t!

“I got to eight miles and when I caught back up with Steph I thought I could slow it down and try and over­take on the last lit­tle bit or just go for it and I felt re­ally good.

“It was def­i­nitely a much more pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence than I sup­pose I was ex­pect­ing!”

On fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of her mum, who ran 2:26:52 for the marathon in the same year as her sec­ond Great South Run win, she added: “It’s so spe­cial. I was ex­cited just to run the same course as her. I’m very lucky to race on tracks all across the world but this is prob­a­bly the first road race that I’ve done where I’ve lit­er­ally fol­lowed in my mum’s foot­steps and ran ex­actly what she did 20 years ago.

“I never thought I’d come here and win it – that makes it even more unique.”

McCol­gan’s main aim this win­ter is the Euro­pean In­door Cham­pi­onships on home soil in Glas­gow and the 2017 Euro­pean in­door 3000m bronze medal­list also believes a step up

in en­durance work will help her on the track in fu­ture.

“If I want to start win­ning more medals on the track, I need to im­prove my en­durance,” she said. “Now is the time to start build­ing the en­durance and rac­ing the longer dis­tances and see­ing how much of that can help me im­prove on the track.”

Twell has had a busy cou­ple of months as she got mar­ried to fel­low run­ner Joseph Mor­wood and then raced at the Com­mon­wealth Half Marathon Cham­pi­onships in Cardiff be­fore go­ing on her hon­ey­moon, from which she re­turned just ahead of the Great South Run.

She is also eye­ing a marathon de­but and will now sit down with her coach Ge­off Wight­man to de­cide when that might be, though she added that step­ping up later this year is not out of the ques­tion.

“I’m a bit gut­ted but ob­vi­ously I’ve had a lot go­ing on,” she said on her run­ner-up fin­ish. “It was a good per­for­mance, a proper race. I felt good but maybe I went through the gears a lit­tle bit too quickly. I thought that would be a win­ning tac­tic!

“I’ve just been on hon­ey­moon but I was still think­ing about my train­ing and I was still ex­plor­ing trails and for me that was a good way to en­joy it. Maybe that was one step too far right be­fore a big race. But I’m happy with that. Not re­ally, re­ally happy, but I’ve got a big­ger pic­ture to look at.”

The event in­cor­po­rated the Eng­land Ath­let­ics 10mile Cham­pi­onships and the women’s ti­tle was won by Steel af­ter her third place over­all.

The 32-year-old, who like McCol­gan is also coached by

Liz McCol­gan-Nut­tall, con­tin­ues to work to­wards full fit­ness af­ter some health is­sues and was rea­son­ably happy with her per­for­mance.

“There’s a bit of race rusti­ness there from the set­back that I had,” she said. “I did ex­pect the girls to take off, es­pe­cially with no wind at the end.”

Wales’ Clara Evans was fourth over­all in 57:44 and so sil­ver in the Eng­land Cham­pi­onships was se­cured by Calli Thack­ery in 58:48, while Laura Bren­ton bagged bronze in 59:58.

Top W50 Maria Hes­lop went off with the lead­ers in the open­ing mile, and though slow­ing on the sec­ond half and miss­ing her PB, only four UK W50s have ever gone quicker.

The top three in the men’s race claimed the Eng­land Cham­pi­onships medals.

Chris Thomp­son: three is the magic num­ber for himat the Great South Run

Chris Thomp­son and Andy Ver­non had a good duel be­fore the Alder­shot ath­lete pulled away

Steph Twell leads the way withEil­ish McCol­gan, Clara Evans and Gemma Steel for com­pany

Podium places (l to r): Steph Twell, Eil­ish McCol­ganand Gemma Steel

Miles and smiles: Eil­ish McCol­gan savours her win which fol­lowed in her mother’s foot­steps

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