Ayeko and Steel secure convincing wins in Birmingham

| |

Gemma Steel in action: Photo by AdamKR via Flickr

A perfectly executed race saw Thomas Ayeko run away with the Bupa Great Birmingham Half Marathon title this morning.

The Ugandan runner was somewhat of an unknown quantity heading into the race, but the debutant ran away with victory after a decisive move just before the 45 minute mark.

Tariku Bekele, the pre-race favourite, lead the pack of Collis Birmingham, Chris Thompson, Ayeko and Abdi Abdirahman through 10km, but shortly after fell adrift himself.

The Ethiopian slipped five metres back on 33 minutes, a gap which escalated into him falling out of contention, to eventually finish back in fifth.

Once Bekele was dropped Birmingham took a stint at the front and tried to test the pack, but the Australian’s attempts fell short as the group remain bunched.

A sudden surge by Ayeko coming up to nine miles soon broke the leading batch of four and the 21-year-old quickly opened up a substantial gap, one that eventually sealed his win.

A fine run from Chris Thompson secured him second place. Photo by SNappa2006 via Flickr  Ayeko continued to pile on the pressure and it was Birmingham who found himself in no mans land falling into fourth place.

The Ugandan looked relaxed as he relentlessly pushed on, but the real tussle was going on behind between Thompson and Abdirahman for second place.

The two were glued together with Thompson attempting to break the American several times, but the Aldershot athletes ‘ attempts were in vain.

One final push coming up to 200 metres to go from Thompson finally broke Abdirahman, to cross the line in second place.

Ayeko crossed the line well clear in first in his debut half marathon with a time of 1.02.33, with Thompson half a minute behind in 1.03.03, and Abdirahman in 1.03.08.

A fine race from Gemma Steel saw her shave 27 seconds of her previous best to cross the line an emphatic first in 1.10.19.

Steel and Purity Kimetto, a late entry to the race, broke away from the rest of the field early on, but the Kenyan wasn’t able to challenge the Britain for long.

The two were side by side up until 22 minutes, but a decisive kick by Steel soon opened up a sizeable gap.

The Charnwood AC athlete continued to pile on the pressure and before long she had the roads to herself.

Steel ran the remainder of the race alone out front, and from 20 minutes onwards it was a race between herself and the clock.

With no challengers in sight, Steel looked relaxed and composed throughout, and her efforts paid off as she crossed the line well clear with a personal best, and course record.

Kimetto crossed the line in second over two minutes later in 1.12.48, with Olga Kotovska scooping third in 1.13.49.

Simon Lawson and Jade Jones claimed the wheelchair events convincingly in 51.49 and 1.09.01.

David Weir contested in the men’s event, but a puncture unfortunately forced him out of the race early on.

Results:

Men
1. T Ayeko (Uganda) 1:02:32
2. C Thompson (GB) 1:03:03
3. A Abdirahman (USA) 1:03:08
4. C Birmingham (Aus) 1:03:44
5. T Bekele (Eth) 1:04:36
6. Y Hagos (Eth) 1:05:20

Women
1. G Steel (GB) 1:1019
2. P Kimetto (Ken) 1:12:48
3. O Kotovska (Ukr) 1:13:12
4. L Partridge (GB) 1:14:55
5. L Howarth (GB) 1:16:12
6. N Solyeva (Rus) 1:18:00

Wheelchairs

Men
1. S Lawson (GB) 51:49
2. B Crossley (GB) 1:01:01
3. M Clarke (GB) 1:01:43

Women
1. J Jones (GB) 1:09:01