Race Report – Marathon Special


April 2023 has been a busy month for Club marathon running with members travelling the Country in search of fast times. Well done to all TRC runners for taking part and for some stellar times. Here, in their words, are race reports from Newport, Manchester and London.

Newport – Ben Bohane

The ABP Newport Wales Marathon took place on Sunday 16 April 2023 with the race starting and finishing on the riverfront in the heart of the regenerated city-centre. It is the only city marathon I have done (and possibly the only one left?) where you can park more or less next on the finish line! 

Apparently one of the flattest marathon courses in the UK where many finishers claim PBs. A lonely route in parts but with a very scenic run across the Gwent Levels, along country lanes and through picturesque medieval villages like Magor, Redwick and Llandevenney – where the crowd support was amazing and made up for those quiet lanes. It ended by passing the city’s most famous landmark – the Transporter Bridge. I ran a 2:46 and came 29th out of 1712 finishers. For me that was over 11 mins off my PB (2:57) which I did in 2015. Meanwhile Sean Leadbeater ran the Newport 10k in 37:46 at the same event.

Manchester – George Evans

Manchester marathon is well known for being a fast flat course. Conditions on 14th April were near on perfect: cool, a faint breeze and occasional very light rain to cool you off. That said, as anyone that has ever run one knows, a marathon is never to be taken lightly.

Over 18,000 runners lined up to the sounds of a Mancunian warm up. This included five TRC runners chomping at the bit to tackle this fast course. The race starts from Old Trafford Cricket ground then you follow a 7mile loop around the city centre with plenty of supporters lining the street. A six mile long (and lonelier) straight takes you down to the halfway point before you meander around the cheering crowds and sound systems of Altrincham. Then begins the long road back to old Trafford….particularly long for those who go off way too fast at the beginning hoping to hold onto former marathon glory despite a lack of training (ah-hem).

First over the line from TRC was George Evans in 3:09:31 a good time….but no prizes for consistency as he stumbled over the line (see above). Fresh as a daisy and cheering on his team mates as he ran, Paul Thomas was next in with a very solid 03:21:22 and 63rd in category. Next was Nathan Darkin with a very consistently paced 03:35:57 and a top 500 category position. Our highest category position finisher was next – Hugh McPherson coming in at 62nd position with a very respectable time of 05:11:46.  Finally, with a herculean effort of 05:56:14 hours running time, was Jon Welsh.  Well done all TRC

London – Phil Blackburn

The weather forecast for London went from 20+ degrees and sunny, to cold and cloudy, much to the delight of all the marathon runners. It made great conditions for running as records fell in London. Rumours of a super-fast Kenyan athlete making their London marathon debut were confirmed as James Harrod lined up in Greenwich park. James Harrod made a brilliant start and was on for a 2.34 marathon before injuring his calf and having to pull out at the 20 mile mark. If Thornbury can poach James back from the Iten road runners, he will be sure to break the club record soon.

Even more impressive than Kelvin Kiptums London marathon record, was Jessica Heffer making her debut for Thornbury and smashing the club record set in 2009 by over 12 minutes. Jessica finished in a brilliant 3:04:25, and can surely go for a sub 3 next time!  Phil Blackburn was given the Club’s London place and after a good training block combining the weekly Tuesday interval sessions (thanks to Nick, Hannah and Kevin for standing in the cold every week to coach!) with consistent mileage, he was targeting a 2:50 marathon. Phil ran an even race, crossing halfway in 1:25 and kept the pace consistent. Despite cramping in the last mile and shuffling down the mall, Phil managed to hold on and claim the club London marathon record, finishing in 2:52:05, beating George Evans time from 2021 by 30 seconds. Rumours of a comeback by George have been circulating and a grudge match is now on the cards for 2024. There was another great performance from Kevin Cundy, who finished in 4:23:09, an 11 second PB! (according to powerof10). A brilliantly time and it must have been a sprint finish down the mall to pip his previous best from 2017.