ANNABEL Granger raced to her highest finish in the Simplyhealth Great Run Bristol half marathon yesterday.
The 44-year-old Bristol & West AC runner had previously boasted a best of eight place which she achieved on three successive occasions between 2013-2015.
Annabel missed last year’s race which was won by her clubmate Jenny Spink, who is now based in Spain so didn’t defend her title and came into the race with little form having not raced since June.
Podium girls (L to R): Annabel Granger, Emma Stepto and Charlotte Firth
But Annabel is nothing but consistent and as is her normal racing style shot straight into the lead ahead of pre-race favourite and 2011 champion Emma Stepto of Cornwall AC.
At halfway along the Portway Annabel was still in the lead but Emma was closing and at eight miles swept into the lead to take the lead which she stretched to almost a minute by the finish.
“I have never run as fast as Emma anyway so I was expecting her to come by me,” said Annabel.
“But it was also my fastest half marathon for three years so I cannot have any complaints at all.”
It is worth noting that Emma’s winning time of 77mins 42seccs was 4mins 02secs slower than her 2011 mark and while that is no reflection on her – she is after all in the veterans’ over 45 age group and is coming back from long-term injury – it is one of the slowest winning times.
Still that is not her problem and it is great to see the popular west runner getting back to some form and wining again.
Likewise men’s winner Ronnie Richmond of Bideford AC will take great delight in arguably his best ever victory on the roads though again the winning time is one of the slowest in recent history
Always prominent Richmond proved the strongest as his rivals dropped away one by one and by the finish he was comfortably clear of Lloyd Biddell from Mercia Fell Runners and Steven Tuttle of Milton Keynes.
To further underline Ronnie’s fine effort his time equalled his personal best of 68mins 07secs which he set in Manchester last year so you can’t ask any more than that though I suspect he would have liked to have run eight seconds quicker.
Taunton AC’s Phil Burden, who was sixth M35 in the European Masters Championships, last month, was fourth in 69:56 while North Somerset’s James Rodgers was eighth and Bristol & West’s Jack Bancroft, who came third last year, was ninth.
From other locals clubs Team Bath’s George Frost and Weston AC’s Kieron Summers both made the top 20 while Oli Beale was Westbury Harriers’ leading man in 26th .
Simon Cadnell, John Cox and Robert Farley were the leading representatives of Southville Running Club, Great Western Runners and Bitton Road Runners respectively.
Simplyhealth Great Run Bristol half marathon, men: 1 Ronnie Richmond (Bide) 68:07; 2 Lloyd Biddell (Mercia FR) 69:3; 3 Steven Tuttle (Milton Keynes) 69:49; 4 Phil Burden (Taunton) 69:56.
LOCAL 8 James Rodgers (NSAC) 71:21; 9 Jack Bancroft (B&W) 71:27; 14 George Frost (TB) 73:59; 19 Kieron Summers (Weston) 74:18; 20 Gary Dunstone (TB) 74:24; 22 Peter Grist (Wellls) 74:31; 26 Oli Beale (Westbury) 75:38; 29 Mike Dooley (TB, M50) 76:15; 30 James Atkinson (TB) 76:19; 34 Justin Thomas (CAC) 76:49; 35 Simn Gilbert (Devizes RC) 76:51; 38 Simon Cadnell (Southville RC) 77:02; 41 John Cox (GWR )77:15; 44 Robert Farley (Bitt RR) 77:28; 47 Chris Roxburgh (AVR) 77:30.
Women: 1 Emma Stepto (CAC W40) 77:42; 2 Annabel Ganger (B&W, W40) 78:38; 3 Charlotte Firth (WSE&H) 78:56; 4 Lara Bromilow (Milton Keynes) 80:00;