KENYAN Robet Mbithi smashed the course record to scoop the £1,500 bonus in the Vitality Bath half marathon yesterday (SUNDAY).
In his first race in the country the 26-year-old, who only flew into the UK from his training base in Kenya on Friday, led from start to eclipse the four-year-old record of 62:01 set by his compatriot Edwin Kiptoo with a sizzling time of 61mins 45secs.
“I am very happy with that,” said Mbithi.
“I liked the course and the support from the spectators was fantastic. I only arrived her from Kenya on Friday so it feels very cold to me.”
Blue skies and sunshine made it feel positively balmy for the British runners among the 10,000 plus field but there was a cold wind and that made Mbithi’s time even more remarkable.
“It was an amazing run and records are there to be broken,” said race director Andrew Taylor as he handed over the cheque for £1,500 on top of the £1,200 as first prize to Mbithi.
Over three minutes behind was British international Jonny Hay, who was running the race for the first time as part of his build-up for the London Marathon.
He was hoping for quicker but with one eye on London Hay can take encouragement from finishing strongly and looking full of running as he crossed the line having out-sprinted Kimosop.
“I wanted to run 63/64 minutes but it was difficult today in the way the race panned out,” said Hay, who set his PB of 64:09 in the Great North Run two years ago.
“But I felt very strong and that is good news for London.”
Top west man was Bideford’s Aron Richmond in 15th (70:46) with Torbay’s Lee Turner 23rd (71:50) and Cheltenham’s Oli Mott 24th (71:54).Leading local man was Team Bath club chairman Dave Coales in 50th (75:15).
For the ninth time in 13 years the Kenyans’ enjoyed a double win as Lenah Jerotich ran away with the women’s title. Jerotich didn’t quite dominate like Mbitich but the 28-year-old, who on her last trip to the UK won the 2015 Cardiff half, finished two minutes clear of Thames Valley Harriers’ Tracy Barlow.
Interestingly Barlow, who was ranked 10th in the UK at the marathon in 2015, made her debut in Bath last year but didn’t make the podium as she finished in 77mins 47secs. Yesterday she improved by three minutes with a PB of 74:25 to show that her preparations for London are also looking very good.
“I am really pleased with that run today although it was tough out there especially coming back into the wind,” said Barlow.
Third was Hayley Munn of Winchester while in fourth there was an excellent performance by Team Bath’s Rebecca Hilland, who scooped the veterans’ over 35s prize.