THOMPSON SETS NEW COURSE RECORD AT ADIDAS SILVERSTONE HALF MARATHON
Great Britain's Chris Thompson cruised to victory today at the adidas Silverstone Half Marathon just six weeks before he makes his marathon debut at the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 13 April.
Thompson won the race easily, finishing in 65:08 to break Matt Smith's long-standing course record of 65:23, set back in 2005.
Thompson led from the gun and after just one mile the 2010 European 10,000m silver medallist was ahead of the rest of the men's field by 39 seconds. He continued to record sub-five-minute miles - despite the windy, rainy conditions - and pulled further ahead with every mile. By the time he crossed the line, clearly delighted to have broken the record and high fiving the crowds as he went, he'd extended his lead to more than eight minutes.
"It was tough but really fun out there today," Thompson said afterwards. "I hadn't run the course before so I felt quite disorientated by the windy conditions but it was still extremely enjoyable.
"I would have liked to have run under 65 minutes but you have no choice but to deal with the conditions and accept that there will be slow miles when you're running into the wind and faster miles when the wind's behind you.
"I've been altitude training to prepare for the London Marathon and only returned to the UK two days ago so I'm pleased with my performance and can now think about really going for it in London."
The second man across the line today was unattached runner Daniel Steel. He said afterwards: "I'm thrilled to have come second. I've raced here once before in 2011 and I finished eighty-something so it's great to have improved so much. And Chris Thompson is a great runner so there's no shame in coming second to him!"
The first woman across the line was Imogen Keane of Imperial College Cross Country and Athletics Club. Running her first ever half marathon, she took the win in 84:12. Her clubmates Imogen Simmonds and Sarah Johnson were second and third respectively to make it an impressive one-two-three for Imperial College.
Keane said afterwards: "I found the windy conditions tough today - and my pace definitely felt a lot slower than the cars race around Silverstone - but it was good to run with some of the faster men. This was my first half marathon so it feels great to have won."
In the men's wheelchair race, David Weir took the win for the third consecutive year. Weir, living up to his 'Weirwolf' nickname, scared off the competition to cross the line in 49:44, more than five minutes ahead of second-placed Simon Lawson. The six-time Paralympic gold medallist, who led from the gun, was pleased with his performance in the tough conditions, describing the race as "the toughest half marathon I've ever done."
"I didn't blow up at any point on the course, and I felt better than I did this time last year," Weir said afterwards. "I know I'm in good shape but the conditions prevented me from breaking my course record [45:20 set in 2012] today.
"I've been doing lots of indoor training on the treadmill but it's not the same as racing outdoors. The start was hard today because it was freezing cold, which means you're not warmed up properly, but my performance has put a smile on my face before I go to Portugal for a training camp next weekend. I know I can get more out of my training in the six weeks before the London Marathon."
Weir will go for a record-breaking seventh win at the Virgin Money London Wheelchair Marathon on Sunday 13 April. He's currently tied with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson on six London Marathon victories and has said he won't stop racing until he's won a record seven London Marathons.
In the women's wheelchair race, Shelly Woods won on her debut in a time of 62:25, just missing out on the course record of 62:09, set by Jade Jones in 2013. Jones had to settle for second today. Like Weir, Woods was using today's race to prepare for the London Wheelchair Marathon in April.
"It was so windy out there - it was definitely the hardest race I've done," Woods said afterwards. "The wind tried to push the chair off the track but it was fun out there and great mental preparation for the London Marathon.
"I've changed coaches recently and am now working with David Weir and Jenny Archer so it's nice to get a race under my belt - it means we can all see where we are in the run up to the London Marathon. I tried to catch some of the guys and that helped. I've always wanted to come to see Formula One at Silverstone but it's good to be here to race too."
To start the mass race, Emmerdale star Chris Chittel and London Marathon director Iain Hook dropped the chequered flag to set more than 7,000 runners on their way, many of them using the adidas Silverstone Half Marathon to prepare for the 'Big One': the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon.
Hook, who also took part in the race, said afterwards: "Conditions were really tough out there so it was brilliant to see such a colourful procession of runners streaming around this famous racetrack. The fact that so many of them are raising money for charity is the icing on the cake of another fantastic Silverstone half."
Despite the overcast, windy conditions (19 mph) and cool temperature of seven degrees, a record 6,930 runners made it around the iconic corners of the world-famous racetrack on another great day of racing at Silverstone.
Top Six Men
Chris Thompson (Aldershot, Farnham & District), 65:08
Daniel Steel (Unattached), 73:57
Hywel Davies, (Rugby and Northants AC), 74:50
Martin Shore (Thames Hare and Hounds), 75:07
Mike Bisson (Lordshill Road Runners), 75:14
Ben Wickham (Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets AC), 76:22
Top Six Women
Imogen Keane (Imperial College Cross Country and Athletics Club), 84:12
Imogen Simmonds (Imperial College Cross Country and Athletics Club), 86:23
Sarah Johnson (Imperial College Cross Country and Athletics Club), 86:33
Hannah Turner (Harpenden Arrows), 87:02
Sally Baker (Rugby Triathlon Club), 87:12
Lucy Ashe (Unattached), 88:14
Top Six Men - Wheelchair Race
David Weir, 49:44
Simon Lawson, 55:00
Will Smith, 62:04
Bret Crossley, 63:36
Anthony Gotts, 64:14
Ashley Archer, 64:21
Top Five Women - Wheelchair Race
Shelly Woods, 62:25
Jade Jones, 64:03
Mel Nicholls, 68:43
Susan Cook, 85:43
Martyna Snopek, 91:38