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Jepchirchir and Tola win Great North Run half marathon

Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir won the women’s race in 1:06:45, while Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola claimed the men’s title in 59:58 at the Great North Run half marathon on Sunday (10).

Britain’s record-breaking warm weather continued as the elite career of one of its greatest athletes ended at the 42nd edition of the half marathon that takes participants from Newcastle to South Shields.

Mohamed Farah placed a respectable and emotional fourth in 1:03:28. He would have loved to have been on the podium in his final race, but he was no match for the Olympic and world-medal winning trio ahead.

Tola made some amends for his failure to retain his world marathon title 14 days earlier. Alongside Farah, the smooth-running Ethiopian led a group of seven athletes at 5km (14:11), then pressed on as the group climbed to the highest point of the course at five miles.

Then, on the downhill dual carriageway stretch, he showed the form which deserted him in the closing stages of the Budapest marathon. His 4:27 mile to seven broke all but Bashir Abdi, then he cranked it up to 4:20 and was 10 seconds up on the Belgian, who himself was 30 seconds ahead of Muktar Edris.

Tola’s pace slowed as the course climbed, but he still pulled away to dip under one hour. No-one else got under 61 minutes. Abdi was second in 1:01:20, while Edris was third in 1:01:54.

In the women’s race, Jepchirchir went one better than her runner-up finish in 2022.

Following a snappy 5:03 opening mile, her fellow New York Marathon winner Sharon Lokedi was her only company, but just for four miles. In the 24°C heat, Jepchirchir ran quicker than she had in kinder running conditions a year earlier. This is a woman who won the Olympic marathon when it was 31°C with 78% humidity, so heat doesn’t bother her.

Behind Jepchirchir and Lokedi, who finished second in 1:07:43, was Britain’s Charlotte Purdue, who repeated her 2021 third place finish to tune up nicely for her Berlin Marathon bid.

“I decided to run by myself,” Jepchirchir told the BBC. Both she and Lokedi are also in marathon preparations as they get ready to return to the New York City Marathon on 5 November.

As with so many mass races of this kind, there were countless human interest stories and races within races amid the 43,768 starters. One unique record was established by blind British runner Jim Roberts, who completed the distance untethered in 2:08:25.

The last word goes to Farah. “All I know is running,” declared the 10-time global track gold medallist in his post-race interview that was broadcast to the sunbaked spectators on the seafront. “That’s what made me happy for so many years.”

(09/10/2023) Views: 252 ‚ö°AMP
Great North Run

Great North Run

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