31 July 2010
Away from the stadium, navigating through the landmarks of central Barcelona, the British Marathon Cup team represented themselves and their country superbly over 26 miles of the city course.
With dominating European marathon specialists, home support for the Spanish competitors and hot, sunny conditions to contend with the British women finished a collective third place in the European Marathon Cup event incorporated in the championship race with three inside the top 20.
At the half way point....
Sue Partridge (Leeds City) led the British contingent, passing the marker at 1:18.03 in 18th place. Biding her time and improving from 29th at 5k to 18th over the following 15k, she held onto that position into the 25k point.
Just behind in 19th for 1:18.11, Michelle Ross Cope (City of Stoke) worked hard for the position steadily moving from 27th (5k), occupying 22nd and 21st in the interim.
Rebecca Robinson (Kendal) also bettered her placing steadily throughout. Completing her first 5k in 30th place she battled to get to 24th and stayed there and recorded 1:19.17.
Holly Rush (Team Bath), who makes her marathon outing 18 years after her husband and coach Martin Rush competed in the walk at the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona, had a best place of 28th.
Helen Decker (Ipswich Jaffa) had a fantastic progressive half marathon, her first official placing was 35th at 5k, at 15k she had claimed back three places and at half way, another four.
Completing her first stage of the race in 36th place, Jo Wilkinson (Bedford & County) picked off her European counterparts gradually until she held 29th when she crossed the line on the Passeig de Picasso.
In the final stages (30k)....
Susan Partridge had increased her lead on the British runners and improved her overall placing to 17th while Ross-Cope chased in 20th.
As the women approached two hours on the road, four of the team worked together to keep momentum with Robinson slightly ahead in 22nd.
She was closely followed by Decker (23rd), Rush (24th) and Wilkinson (25th) in quick succession all signalling the 30k point at 1:54.54.
On the line....
It was Ross-Cope who came home first for GB&NI in an impressive 14th and time of 2:38.45, despite dealing with a dislodged toenail during the race. With a PB of 2:36.02, but no full Marathon outing to date this year, it was a great relief: “I felt strong towards the end and I’m really pleased especially because I missed London. As a team I think we’ve done alright. I felt my toe nail dislodge but I had to just carry on. It’s been a good year for me.
“To be honest I was a bit nervous coming into the race, with being away for three weeks you don’t know how it’s gone. I trained with the marathon guys in Font Romeu at the Aviva Preparation camp and obviously it’s worked today because I felt strong towards the end. Thanks to UKA for sending us there!”
Partridge took 16th place after losing her British lead to Ross-Cope between 35 and 40k. However it was Ross-Cope who accelerated and not Partridge who fell back which was proven with her consistency within the top 20 placings and 2:39.07 finish.
“I’m pretty tired but considering, I didn’t cope with the conditions too badly,” she commented. “ I went out there and felt great so I know that the hard work and training has paid off. When you’re out in the sun it’s tough. There are patches of the course when you’re out and exposed.
“I didn’t really come into the race with a position in my mind because I’m not used to these conditions. I think top ten is good. It was never going to be a fast race, I don’t think it would be fast for anybody, it was more just about getting the pace right at the beginning.”
Rush was next to complete and bring valuable points home for GB&NI. Pushing forward from 27th to 20th in the second half of the race, the Team Bath athlete, who ran the 2010 Virgin London Marathon in 2:37:56, dealt with the heat well and put out a notable performance to finish in 2:42.44 .
Decker followed her teammate under the finish line gantry just one place and four seconds behind. She improved seven places, from 28th to 21st in the second half of the race and managed to dig deep for a 2:43.00 time.
Robinson and Wilkinson made it six home for GB&NI at 2:44.06 and 2:44.11 respectively. Robinson finish in 24th place, Wilkinson just one behind.
With a slight slip back to 25th place from 22nd place, which she had held through 25k and 30k, Robinson managed to claim back one spot before the end of the race.
Soon after she said: “I was going really well until 30k and then my legs cramped up. I wanted to just see if I could keep going, I’ve never felt that before but it’s only my second marathon. I felt cramp for the last 10k, which is quite a long way. I wasn’t going to stop, it was just a case of mind over legs! It’s got to be in that event. Being with the team is really exciting but I wouldn’t say it’s enough, I still wanted to do well.”
Lithuanian Zivile Balciunaite won the race in 2:31.14.