On Sunday 30th September was the annual running of the popular Bristol Half Marathon. Boasting a fairly flat and PB friendly course it attracts around 20'000 entrants yet manages to retain a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, making it appealing to first timers and elites alike.
In amongst a top quality field, which included the anticipated smattering of prize-money seeking Kenyans, some top national athletes, local club runners and the charity and fancy-dress contingent, our handful of Harriers set about achieving their own goals of personal or season's bests.
The first Harrier home not only chipped a few seconds off his personal best, he totally obliterated it! Marc Cox has only been running seriously for about a year and, over the summer particularly, his times have improved in startling leaps. His previous attempt at the 13.1 mile distance was in June at the Torbay event where he clocked a - still impressive, for a debut half - time of 90:06. Fast forward just 3 short months and he has managed to shave over 8 minutes off that time to post 81:45 at Bristol on Sunday. This gave him 142nd place in a field which contained 10'045 eventual finishers. Astounding indeed and leaves us wondering how much more there is to come, given that he has achieved all of this so far with basic training and no structured speed work. We wait with avid interest to see what 2013 brings!!
Next across the line, also setting a new PB (to the best of ed.'s knowledge, please correct if wrong!), was MV40 runner Jon Garrity. Since his huge improvements in times between 2011and 2012, Jon has consitently placed at the sharp end of the field in all races, and the Bristol event was no exception with his 89:57 giving him a coveted sub 1h30 clocking and earning his 522nd spot, placing him around about the top 10% of finishers.
Dave Wright was not too far behind Jon and was unlucky on the day to just miss out on a sub 1h30 time, which he will certainly have been pushing hard for. He clocked 91:53 for 673rd place overall and this placed him well up the field in the MV50 category. With Dave once again signed up for the Dartmoor Discovery 32.3 mile ultra next year, he will now be looking to put in a solid base of autumn and winter miles before the hard work starts in earnest in the New Year!
Jane MacDonald, who runs both for the Harriers and the Exmouth Belles, can be satisfied with her achievement as she finished comfortably under the 2 hour mark in 1:52:01, placing her 3901 overall and well up in the women's rankings.
It was a Kenyan clean-up at the front of the pack with Dominic Ondoro winning the race in a sharp 62:51 and Emily Biwott leading the female charge with 71:22.
Top Devon athlete was Exmouth based runner, Tom Merson, who clocked a new PB of 68:31 to give him 20th spot overall.