On Sunday morning, eleven Teignbridge Trotters descended on the Exeter Arena for the Guildhall Shopping Centre Great West Run. The 25th Anniversary Half Marathon, organised by the Ironbridge Runner, with a potential field of 3,000, attracts athletes, club members and charity runners alike. The course comprises two laps around Pinhoe Road, Southerhay East and the High Street, before returning to the Arena for a lap of the track.
Ably assisted by pacemen Dave Tomlin (1:30), Gary Watson and Mark Wotton (1:45), the team proved its tenacity in the far from ideal conditions. Mark Hamling led the Royal Blues home in 271st position out of a field of 2254 finishers, with a time of 1:39:10, followed by Mike Roberts (410th) in 1:42:18. Gia D'Aprano (1:43:53) in 492nd position, was 2nd in the FV50 category and takes the female club record for a Half Marathon, previously held by Tina Caunter.
Other Trotters braving the sun and keen wind were: Chris Wride (1:46:31), Syd Willocks (1:51:43), James Henderson (1:52:10), Ann Jones (1:56:52) and Lisa Thorne (1:57:16). Kevin Besford, returning to distance running after a gap of 25 years arrived at the finish in 2:12:22. He was closely followed by Cindy Brookes, running in support of the Exeter based Force cancer charity, with a personal best time of 2:12:23. Steve Blackburn (pictured) running his very first Half Marathon made a superb effort and crossed the line in a time of 2:14:41.
Also on Sunday, Howard Cotton and Dave Dunn travelled to Avebury in Wiltshire, for the Neolithic Marathon. The 26.2 mile course, altered and increased somewhat this year to avoid ground-nesting birds, is multi terrain and follows the Sarsen Trail to Stonehenge. Howard finished in a fine time of 3:54:17, followed by Dave (3:56:27), in training for the Dartmoor Discovery Ultra Marathon on June 6th and running this particular event for the 4th consecutive year.
Just over the River Tamar in Saltash, lone Trotter Ewan Walton flew the flag and tackled the infamous Half Marathon. Organised by the Tamar Trotters, the event is known as one of the toughest of its kind in Cornwall, with some very unforgiving hills to tackle. Ewan battled the heat to achieve a superb time of 1:29:38 and finished 9th out of 194 runners.
Further indications of Trotters dedication to the sport were to be found in Roger Hales and Julian Head, when running the 28th Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon on Bank Holiday Monday. The duo both completed the course in excellent times of 3:24:35 and 3:40:05 respectively.
Photo: Steve Blackburn pounds the streets of Exeter on the Great West Run