Both the men’s and women’s races were stacked with talent for the second year of The Vitality Big Half.
This already popular event is also the British Half Marathon Championships. But many of the elite runners were testing themselves for the upcoming Virgin Money London Marathon.
As the race unfolded last Sunday, appearances were deceiving, not least because of the strong winds across London.
Sir Mo Wins Second Title in a Row
Expectation was high as is always the case when Farah takes to the streets of London. He quickly established his place in the leading pack once the gun had sounded.
Surprisingly, around the 5-mile mark Farah appeared to be struggling, falling behind his training partner Bashir Abdi and Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru by 10m. He clutched his stomach and spectators feared the worst. But this blip lasted less than 5 minutes. For the remainder of the race Farah was locked together for the title, until the last 100m, when the sprint finish began.
Farah won by a mere second. But the way he dealt with the brutal conditions and challenging sections shows just how well he can still triumph over adversity.
Purdue Comes from Behind to Retain Title
Steph Twell, full of confidence from recent victories at the Armagh 3k and Chichester 10k, pulled away from her female competitors before the 5-mile mark. She maintained a strong pace in a large group of male runners.
For miles Charlotte Purdue was running alone, battling the wind without any protection from other runners. But she continued to work hard, and with self-belief she would soon chip away at the lead. After 53 minutes at the 10-mile mark, Purdue did overtake Twell, who was slowing. Purdue never let up, running beside and then overtaking male club runners to retain her title and finish in 1:10:38.
She maintained an even pace throughout, which proved to be the best strategy on such a blustery morning.
London saw the best of British half marathon runners compete in far from ideal conditions. But the experience of past champions proved successful. The advice after watching this event is to stick to a race plan. Even if you find yourself alone, it can be easier to judge your effort without distractions. Otherwise you can get carried away with faster runners and find you haven’t the speed endurance or leg strength to end the race strong.