In what is thought to be the biggest turnout in the event's 22-year history, British athletes Chris Thompson, Andrew Lemoncello and Charlotte Purdue all finished strongly in yesterday's (Sunday, October 30) Great South Run. Thompson and Lemoncello were placed fourth and fifth respectively, whilst Purdue narrowly missed out on third position as around 24,000 runners took to the streets of Portsmouth.
Leonard Komon comfortably won the men's race with a time of 46:28 but was unable to achieve his personal target of displacing Haile Gebreselassie's world record. Komon, vocal in pronouncing his intentions of matching the legendary Ethiopian's time of 44:23, outlined his intentions early with an opening first mile of 4:12. A 5 mile split of 22:08, moreover, suggested that Gebreselassie's record time might be in jeopardy.
The 10km and 15km record holder was unable to maintain this blistering pace and was reduced to almost five-minute miles for the closing two miles. The 23 year-old finished 22 seconds ahead of fellow Kenyan Abel Kirui (46:40), with Ireland's Alastair Cragg completing the top three positions (47:14).
Komon revealed that a strong headwind from the adjacent Solent Waterway might have hindered his progress in the last stretch, commenting: "The weather was too much for me and it was really tough at the end. It would have helped me if earlier in the race there had been someone to run with. I tried my hardest on my own but it wasn't enough."
Ethiopia's Asselefech Mergia won the women's race in 52:55, 39 seconds ahead of Doris Changeywo (53:34). Commonwealth marathon winner Irene Jerotich finished in third position, completing the course in 53:43.
Mergia broke from the pack at around the seven-mile mark and was happy to be leading as she approached the headwind that proved to be troublesome throughout the course of the day, commenting, "I decided that was the best point to get clear as I knew when we turned (for the last two miles) the wind would make it very difficult - which happened."
Despite his fourth placed position, Chris Thompson later admitted he underestimated the challenges the 10 mile route presented, adding: "I know I am in phenomenal shape at the moment but I didn't respect the course with my ambitions and went off much too quickly at the beginning."
Scottish runner Andrew Lemoncello continued his rehabilitation from injury with a highly respectable time of 48:17. Charlotte Purdue, despite falling over on her left ankle in the early part of the race, narrowly missed out on third position by 2 seconds.
Started by round-the-world sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur, athletes from over 20 countries took to the streets of Portsmouth in what organisers are heralding as the most successful race in the event's 22 year history.
Director of communications, David Hart, said feedback had been positive: "I am delighted with how everything has gone. The Great South Run has truly arrived on the world's stage as a premier international race."