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Norwich Union GB endurance news

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Mara Yamauchi
Mara Yamauchi

Faye Fullerton (Havering Mayesbrook AC) and Mara Yamauchi (Harrow AC) both ran lifetime bests to help the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team into ninth place in the Yokohama International Women’s Ekiden Relay in Japan on Sunday 25 February.

 

Fullerton, a 22-year-old student teacher who trains at the UK Athletics Endurance Performance Centre at St Mary’s University Twickenham, ran the opening 5km stage in 16 minutes 31 seconds, 12 seconds quicker than her previous best in the Women’s Only 5km in Hyde Park, London, last September.

 

Yamauchi ran her 10km stage in 31:43, equalling her fastest ever, which she recorded when she won in Ohme, Japan, 13 months ago She then went on to top the UK Power of 10 rankings last year at 10,000m on the track as well as 10km on the road, half marathon and marathon, To make today’s time all the more impressive, this was her first race back after a five-month injury break. It takes her instantly to the top of this year’s 10km Power of 10 rankings, devised by UK Athletics and its governing partners to inspire improvement in every event in every age group in every region.

 

Gemma Phillips (Kendal AC) was happy to cover the third, 6km, stage in 19:42, having gone through 5km in 16:15.

 

The last three GB runners had to run into a very strong head wind. Vicky Gill (Chorley AC) ran her 6km in 20:40, Wendy Jones (Cirencester AC) battled through 10km in 35:16, and Sonia Thomas (Sale Harriers Manchester) ran the final 5,195km in 18:09.

 

It all meant that the GB team finished ninth over the full marathon distance in 2:22:01. Russia won in 2:14:48.

 

And there were sparkling road runs at home by two of the athletes in the Norwich Union GB team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya, on 24 March.

 

Phil Nicholls (Tipton Harriers), who will be making his GB debut in the Senior Men’s team, smashed his 5-mile best on a hilly course at Dudley in the West Midlands. He clocked 23:48 to obliterate the course record of 25:37 in a race organised for the Action Heart charity by former GB international Paul Davies-Hale.

 

Nicholls, who flies out to the UK Athletics acclimatisation camp in Durban, South Africa, on 5 March, said: “I’m obviously chuffed, especially as the first two miles are up hill. I would have been happy with something around 24:30 and when I saw the time at the finish I couldn’t believe the shape I’m in.”

 

Emily Pidgeon (Gloucester AC), the European Junior 5000m champion, will fly out to join the UKA acclimatisation camp on 12 March in high spirits after winning the Bourton 10km in her home county in 33:37.

 

Pidgeon, who won a gold sovereign for her excellent effort, said: “I’ve not raced for a long time and so had no idea of my fitness level. Last year I was in really good form and won this race in 33:56. It was much more blustery today so I am very pleased that everything went really well.”

 

Her time takes her, at the age of 17, to third in the UK Senior Women’s rankings behind Yamauchi and Louise Damen (Poole AC), who clocked 33:34 at Stubbington Green last month and went on to win the Silver medal at yesterday’s UK Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships.