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UK Athletics

UK trio enjoy Ethiopia

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UK endurance runners Mary Wilkinson (Bingley Harriers), Susie Bush (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC) and Victoria Wilkinson (Bingley Harriers) report having “an AMAZING experience” in the Confident First Women’s 5km in Addis Ababa on Sunday 1 April.


Mary relished the experience so much 12 months ago that she went on to run personal bests for 10km and 3km last summer – and she did not hesitate to return as soon as she heard Susie and Vic had jumped at invitations from UK Athletics to spend just over a fortnight acclimatising in athletics-mad Addis before taking in the race.


Be prepared for your spine to tingle as you read their report:


We all had a fantastic day; a really good experience which will undoubtedly stand us in good stead for our return to England this week.


“The atmosphere at the start and during the race was totally amazing with over 7,000 women gathered to celebrate their rights and make a stand against violence towards women. Whatever their level of ability everyone gave 100% in energy and enthusiasm to create a carnival effect. As well as the obvious talent at the front of the field, there was plenty of dancing and singing throughout which when we had finished we were able to enjoy.


“The race itself is tough. As well as the altitude and very strong competition, the course is not the easiest with a killer final km uphill to the finish which can be seen as soon as you pass the 4km mark ... a long old drag but the support at the sides of the course ensured we all put in maximum effort and a smiling face.


“The elite field of around 100 started slightly ahead of the masses this year, making the start slightly more controlled than last year, but the frantic pace was just as impressive with the leading runners posting times that are truly world class and are certainly athletes to watch out for on the Grand Prix circuit and the world stage.


“We were all pleased with our runs to finish in the top 60 or 70 in a race in a country so passionate about the sport of running on their home ground.” 


Photo Of The Trio Of British Athletes In Ethiopia

Susie, who finished around 50th, said: “I was extremely excited Sunday morning. To be given the opportunity to run in such a great race, for such a good cause, was so wonderful. The race was so well organized, and to be a part of the atmosphere and race against such great athletes was terrific c... it is a day I will always remember!”


Mary, second UK athlete home in around 60th place, added: “The race lived up to my expectations. I was really excited warming up and on the start line while being a little nervous about what was ahead of me. But the positive attitude and excitement of all those around me helped me to relax and really enjoy it. While running the encouragement from other runners and supporters at the course side was all I needed to pull me through and they were certainly not going to let me slow! The organisation this year was fantastic and this is due to Richard Nerurkar and his team at the Great Ethiopian Run, who deserve a huge amount of congratulations. We thank them so much for making the event brilliant and enabling us to take part. I'll be back again next year for sure!”


Vic, who finished about 70th, reported: “An amazing experience, running amongst so many athletes of all standards. The top end of the field are average runners here, but really are in a class of their own, very inspiring to see and be amongst them. It is an extremely well organised event. Many UK women would love the atmosphere and attitude of all the women, all for a good cause too. It was also amazing to see how Haile is accepted here; everyone chants and cheers for him immensely, creating a fantastic atmosphere.”


Organiser Nerurkar said the UK trio’s times were around 18:20 to 19 minutes in a race won by Ethopia’s Asselefech Mergia in 16:13. He added: “The course was slightly over-distance.”