6th September 2009

World Half Trialsreport

6 September 2009

Claire Hallissey (Bristol & West) smashed her personal best by over a minute when winning the Bristol Half Marathon today (Sunday 6 September) – incorporating the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships Trials and UK Championships – and in doing so, secured her Aviva GB & NI team place for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham on Sunday 11October.

Hallissey, who recorded her previous best of 1:13:17 at the Newark Half Marathon on 9 August, clocked 1:12:03 for victory; two minutes inside the women’s guidelines standard for selection.

Kenyan Joice Kirui had led in the early stages from Michelle Ross-Cope (City of Stoke), the only UK athlete on the start line who, prior to today, had run faster than Hallissey in 2009, and Hallissey.

The positions remained relatively unchanged through the first half of the race, but at eight miles, Hallissey, the UK 10000m champion, had cut the lead down to 18 seconds and Chester-Le-Street’s Aly Dixon had moved up into third.

Hallissey continued to work hard and reduced the gap to Kirui to 10m; with three miles to go she was on the shoulder of the African leader and Dixon was a further 200m down. Gemma Miles (Kendal) had moved up to fourth – and back into contention – with Rebecca Robinson (Kendal) in fifth.

At that stage, the race had only just begun for duathlete Katrina Grimmett (Hants Police Tri Club), as she stepped up the pace, moving through the chasing pack to finish in third overall (1:13:08) – and second Brit behind Hallissey.

In her first ever half marathon, Grimmett was the surprise package of the day for selectors, also for herself, it seems. “Brilliant!” she screamed! “I’m a duathlete, but running is my strongest event and it’s an Olympic sport – duathlon isn’t in the Olympics. I really wanted to give this a go. I sat back until 10 miles then I started pushing.”

Hallissey, who will move to the USA after the World Half in Birmingham, was also delighted. “Having been injured for a period last year, it was nice to get back and have a real target,” she said.

Kirui finished second (1:12:53) with Kendal duo Rebecca Robinson (1:13:11) and Gemma Miles (1:13:13) in fourth and fifth respectively, and Aly Dixon (Chester-Le-Street) – the fifth British athlete home and fifth inside the 74:00 guideline standard for selection for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham next month – in sixth (1:13.40).

The conditions were perfect for the record entry field in Bristol, and ahead of the masses, Kenya’s Ezekie Cherop led the men’s race from start to finish to clock 1:03.26 for victory.

Three athletes broke clear in the early stages, Cherop leading US-based Brit Eddie Ernest-Jones and Salford’s Tomas Abyu.

The trio set a fast pace, and by two miles, which they went through in 9.30, Ernest-Jones had dropped off and was already 50m down on the lead pair.

Cherop passed the five mile mark in 23.40, building a lead of up to 100m from Abyu, while behind Ernest-Jones, the chasing pack – including Mark Miles (Belgrave) – were closing in.

Continuing to clock sub-4.50 average splits, Cherop increased his lead over Abyu to 350m as the athletes approached the eight mile mark – by far the slowest mile of the race in a slightly uphill section of a generally flat, fast course.

The pair finished in first and second respectively, exactly as they’d started, in 1:03.26 and 1:04.29.

“I’m happy to run that time,” said Abyu.

Mark Miles, who ran a steady race, came through to finish in third (1:04.54) – second Brit – and safely inside the UKA guideline selection standard of 65:30. “It’s been fantastic today,” he said, knowing all he had to do was finish inside the top two to be guaranteed selection having clocked the required standard earlier in the year. “The weather was totally conducive to fast running. It’s one of the best organised races I’ve ever been to, it’s been superb.”

“I live near Birmingham so the World Half really is a home Championships for me,” he continued, “I’m looking forward to it.”

Gareth Raven (Sale Harriers Manchester) – the third British athlete to finish inside the 64:00 mark in Bristol – finished fourth in 1:05.05.

The GB & NI team will be announced on the 8 September.