Ideal conditions for everyone!
Report on the 2011 Wilmslow Half Marathon by Malcolm Fowler.
Once again the Asics Wilmslow Half Marathon attracted thousands of runners to the streets of Wilmslow and Mobberley. With the race hosting the England Half Marathon Championship for the 3rd consecutive year, local runners had the opportunity to test themselves against some of the finest runners in the country.
The weather was ideal. Cool and calm for runners to record fast times and yet warm enough to encourage plenty of spectator support around the course.
From the start it was clear three African runners that had entered the race meant business, as they lead out the field of nearly 4,000 runners. Initially they were closely followed by a group of ten runners which included last years winner Andi Jones and 2008 winner Gareth Raven. However with the leaders maintaining a pace of around 4:45 a mile, runners gradually dropped off the back of the group until after four miles only Nick Swinburn from Morpeth could live with the pace of Kenyans Simon Tonui, Zak Kihara and Burundi-born Jean Ndayisenga. The next group of runners being around 100 metres adrift.
Six miles into the race Ndaysenga had opened up a 10 second gap over his two Kenyan rivals with Swinburn just behind. Meanwhile in the ladies race Julie Briscoe from Wakefield already had a 60 second lead on 2nd placed Olivia Walwyn from Altrincham.
Ndaysenga continued to extend his lead and by 10 miles had a 44 second lead over the two Kenyans who were running side by side, with Swinburn now a further 10 seconds behind, but still well ahead of the following group. Julie Briscoe appeared to have the Ladies race sewn up having extended her lead to over two minutes.
As the runners approached the finish things were beginning to get interesting. Ndaysenga continued to run strongly and was a convincing winner, over a minute ahead of Kihara. However fellow Kenyan Tonui was now beginning to tire and was caught by Swinburn who recorded a superb 3rd place. For a time it looked as though Tonui might also be caught by the fast finishing Michael Johnson from Bristol but in the end Tonui held onto 4th by just one second from Johnson, with James Smith from Leeds a further five seconds adrift in 6th place.
In the ladies race Julie Briscoe continued to extend her lead finishing in 73:29 around three minutes ahead of Olivia Walwyn with Jo Buckley from Bingley 3rd.
First Wilmslow runner home was Rob Downs in 40th place recording a time of 74:11
Further back down the field runners were having their own private battles, either with other competitors, or against the clock as they tried to lower their personal bests.
Meanwhile hundreds of runners were also running to raise money for this years nominated race charity Macmillan Cancer Research.
The date for next years race has yet to be announced. It is hoped we will be able to confirm the date in the next few weeks.