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UK Athletics

Twell breaks 25-year-old UK record

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Steph Twell
Steph Twell: record-breaker.

European Junior Cross Country Champion Steph Twell and her Aldershot, Farnham and District AC colleague Susie Bush, inspired by her UK Athletics-arranged trip to Ethopia, were in record-breaking form at the 26th annual Guernsey Island AC Easter Runs.


Twell, aged only 17, capped four days of fantastically encouraging form by breaking the UK junior half marathon record that has stood since 1982, when Kathy Williams (Wales) clocked 77:52 at Barry.


Despite the Healthspan half marathon at St Peter Port on Monday 9 April being the fourth race in as many days, Twell clocked 77:27 to confirm that she is well and truly over the injury that kept her out of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya, a fortnight ago.


She was defeated by only 12 men and was the second woman in a field of 144 finishers. The women’s winner, 28-year-old Bush, was defeated by only eight men in clocking 74:55, which takes her to 11th in the Power of 10 rankings for this year.


It capped a great weekend for the pair, who are training mates in the squad coached at Aldershot by UK Athletics performance coach Mick Woods.


Twell won the opening event of the series, the Healthspan 10km at Port Soif on Good Friday, in 34:04. It knocked 90 seconds off her own course record that she set 12 months ago. The time is only 7 seconds shy of her fastest yet, recorded at the Nike Grand Prix in London’s Hyde Park last year.


She was pushed all the way by Bush, who only returned last Wednesday from three weeks in Ethiopia, arranged by UK Athletics, so that she could experience the world’s biggest women’s only 5km road race.


It looked as if the teenager had got away with 2.5km to go but Bush battled back to draw level with her and they raced stride for stride until the closing stages, when Twell came up with the same kind of irresistible finish that earned her the gold medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Italy just before Christmas.


Bush crossed the Guernsey line second in 34:07, a PB by 14 seconds to demonstrate how much she benefited from her Ethiopian expedition.


AFD also provided the next two over the line: Emma Pallant third in 36:13, Andrea Woodvine fourth in 37:02. Guernsey’s own Louise Perrio was fifth in 37:07 and UK Athletics Director of Athletics Zara Hyde Peters (Coventry Godiva Harriers) sixth senior woman (and first master) in 37:40.


Leaders in the men’s 10km: 1 Williard Chinhanhu (Zimbabwe / Poole Runners) 29:19; 2 Lee Merrien (Guernsey Island AC) 30:28; 3 Kibor Joseph (Kenya) 30:39; 4 Matt Ashton (AFD) 30:50; 5 Neil Speaight (Belgrave Harriers) 31:02; 6 James Thie (Cardiff AAC) 32:09.


Bush gained her revenge in the second event of the weekend, the Keith Falla Memorial 4.5 mile cross country race at L’Ancresse on Saturday 7 April. She won in 26:26 with Twell 12 seconds behind her, Pallant third in 27:44, Perrio fourth in 28:45, Hyde Peters up to fifth in 29:15 ahead of Woodvine sixth in 29:42.


The men’s cross country finished: 1 Chinhanhu 23:33; 2 Ashton 24:26; 3 Stephen Scullion (AFD) 25:05; 4 Steve Dawes (Guernsey Island AAC) 25:19; 5 Kassa Tadesse (Leam) 25:29; 6 Dan Merkel (Oxford City AC) 25:32.


Bush was in record-breaking form in the 4 x 2 miles cross country relay at Les Amarreurs on Sunday 8 April, lowering the course record to 10:44, while Twell equalled her time of last year, 10:47, which was the old course record. With Pallant clocking 10:54 and Woodvine 11:26, AFD lowered the team record to 43:51, and were led home by only two men’s teams.


AFD men won in 39:43, another course record, thanks to Stephen Connor clocking 10:21, Christian Clement 9:54, Matt Ashton 9:32 and Stephen Scullion 9:56.


Guernsey Island AAC were second in 40:15, thanks hugely to Lee Merrien lowering the course record to 9:20, knocking 6 seconds off the previous best lodged by Rob Whalley (Bristol and West AC) two years ago.


And then came the half marathon with the men’s race finishing: 1 Chinhanhu 60:25; 2 Ashton 69:06; 3 Tadesse 70:53. Hyde Peters completed her weekend by clocking 86:28 for 39th place overall in the field of 144.


It meant the overall prizes after all four races went to:


Men – 1 Chinhanhu 6 points; 2 Ashton 10; 3 Scullion 20; 4 Dawes 24; 5 Martin Lewis (Poole Runners) 33; 6 Dan Merkel 35.


Women – 1 Bush 58; 2 Twell 65; 3 Pallant 105; 4 Perrio 127; 5 Woodvine 137; 6 Hyde Peters 150.


Phil Wicks (Belgrave Harriers) continued to make good use of the training he put in at the UK Athletics preparation camp in Durban ahead of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. He won the Easter 10 mile road race at Maidenhead, for the second successive year, in 49:41.