24th March 2018


Charlotte Purdue (coach: Nic Bideau; club: Aldershot, Farnham & District) put in a captain’s effort as she finished 21st at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia to lead the British women’s team to seventh.

Purdue was announced as captain for the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team shortly after arriving in Spain and, the only member of the team to compete in Cardiff two years ago, she improved 12 places to finish 21st in 71:21 minutes in very windy conditions in the City of Running.

Charlotte Arter (Chris Jones; Cardiff) was the next best of the ten-strong British team as she placed 31st in 71:52 and combined with Tracy Barlow’s (Nick Anderson; Thames Valley) personal best finish of 72:35 for 43rd that placed the women seventh overall.

Only the top-three finishers count towards the team standings with Gemma Steel (Liz Nuttall; Charnwood) the fourth Brit home in 73:39 for 48th while Faye Fullerton (Georgina Fullerton; Havering) lowered her personal best for the second time this month as she crossed in 73:56 for 53rd.

Mohamud Aadan (Paul Oppe; Thames Valley), making his senior international debut for Britain, was the best of the men in a big personal best of 62:34 for 36th with Luke Traynor (Andrew Kastor; Glasgow City) second home in 62:38 for 38th and Ben Connor (Steve Vernon; Derby) third in 63:45 for 64th which placed the team 11th overall.

Purdue, who like many of the team will now focus on the London Marathon is less than a month’s time, said: “I was hoping for a personal best but it was very windy out there so I just wanted a solid run. It is not the best time but it was solid. I wanted to get out of trouble so the first mile was pretty fast but after that I slowed down a bit. Two years ago, I was 33rd so to be 21st is an improvement, I guess I am happy. I could see Japanese runners ahead of me at the end and I was trying to catch them but I didn’t have anything left. I loved being the captain, I was running out there and I was thinking I’ve got to do well because I am captain and I have got to remember this race. It made me push that little bit harder.”

Like Purdue, Arter ran a personal best of 71:31 at the British Championships earlier this month and, despite being just outside it in Spain, was content with her performance. She said: “It was an amazing atmosphere, the weather was not ideal, the wind was really tough but I actually felt a lot better during the second half of the race. I didn’t feel great leading up to 10km but then I knew the wind was behind me a bit more and I felt like I was moving through quite well. The last mile and a half a big group came past me and I just didn’t have it in my legs in that last bit. The time wasn’t far off my personal best so, in that weather, I am pretty happy.”

For Barlow, Valencia was her fourth half marathon of 2018 and she will now prepare for the full 26.2-mile distance in London next month. She said: “I felt good up until about mile five and then I turned into this massive headwind and it felt like I came to a standstill. I lost the group that Charlotte [Arter] was with and I was on my own for a bit. I had people catching me and I tried to stick with them and they went on ahead but as soon I turned out of the wind they started coming back to me and I felt really good. I managed to keep it going and felt really strong. It was quite nice to finish with a tailwind. I am doing London in four week’s time now and hopefully Europeans in the summer if I qualify.”

While the women’s race went off quick and became stretched, the men’s event was in stark contrast with Aadan, Traynor and Connor all part of a big pack through the first 10km on the picturesque 13.1-mile course in Valencia.

For Aadan his time was an improvement of over 40 seconds on his effort in Granollers back in February and he said: “It is really wonderful and really good. The first two, three, four miles there was a lot of pushing and shoving so it was tough, especially with the wind. It started raining as well but I gradually increased my pace. It was tough and painful but well worth it. The field was very, very good but very enjoyable. I have some things to learn from in terms of pace and who you are racing with. The experience has been great and I hope to get qualification for the European Championships in the 10,000m in the summer.”

Traynor lowered his personal best to 61:55 on his last outing in Barcelona and was making his senior international debut for Britain. He said: “It was weird, it went in surges, I just tried to stay calm and have a bit of fun with it. I took it on after 13km and had my time at the front. I wasn’t pushing it, it was easy, but when they went it was just another level. I tried my best to stay as close as possible and not let too many pass me. I had fun with it. I really did enjoy it, I knew we weren’t going to run superfast so I didn’t mind about times, that went out of my head. I ran comfortable and tried to push it on but I need to work on that speed.”

Dan Studley (Alex Hains; Bristol & West), the third member of the British team making their senior international debut for Britain in Valencia, placed 103rd in 66:20 while Tsegai Tewelde (John McKay; Shettleston) did not finish.

Connor, like Traynor, set a personal best in Barcelona with Valencia just his second half marathon since September 2016. He said: “It was tough. It is not what I wanted. I found myself at the front after the first drinks station, which wasn’t intentional. I struggled at about 10km, I lost contact and didn’t have it. It was tough with the wind but it is the same for everybody. I am going to take a break now and look to the Europeans in the summer on the track. It will be the 10,000m or 5,000m – maybe both – we’ll see.”