KATE Reed’s victory in the Bath half marathon on Sunday was the fastest winning time by a British runner since Michelle Ross-Cope in 2010.
Bristol & West runner Reed (pictured right) clocked a big personal best of 72mins 44secs on her debut in the event which was much quicker than Ruth Barnes’ winning time of 75:32 in 2017, when the event was last held after snow cancelled the 2018 race, plus Emma Stepto’s 73:50 recorded when winning in 2015.
Africans won in 2016 and from 2011-2014 but a cut in prize money, not just in Bath but generally on the UK circuit for overseas runners, has seen the field revert to a predominantly domestic field.
Stoke international marathon runner Ross-Cope won nine years in 72:07 and the previous Brit winner before her was Liz Yelling with a superb course record of 69:27, which still stands today.
Remarkably Chris Thompson’s winning mark of 63:10 was the fastest by a British champion since Tipton Harriers’ John Wheway, who clocked 63:02 32 years ago.
There were plenty of British winners after him throughout the nineties and early noughties – Westbury’s Chris Buckley, Colin Walker of Gateshead, Blackheath’s Dave Taylor, Hugh Lobb of Bedford to name just four – before the Africans took command culminating in Edward Kiptoo’s course record of 62:01 in 2012.
Considering the blustery conditions, the fact that he was on his own for a long spell and that he had run the Big Half in London just the week before, Thompson’s time stands out as truly top quality effort and worthy of joining the illustrious list of winners.
Indeed, there is a good argument to be made that Thompson’s win is the best by a British athlete in the history of the event since it was first held in 1982 – when local legend Nigel Gates won in 63mins 01secs.
Now that wasn’t a bad effort either – and Gates (pictured left) is still going strong.