Cheltenham Half Marathon a success
ALMOST 2,000 runners pounded the streets yesterday as the first Cheltenham Half Marathon took place.
The 1,872 competitors refused to let the wet weather dampen their spirits as they raced along the 13.1-mile course, starting and ending in Pittville Park.
Roads were closed for most of the morning as supporters cheered fervently in different parts of town for the runners.
The morning started out with dark skies and a light drizzle as the runner warmed up for the event in a big group.
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Organised by events company GO2, the race started with three wheelchair participants riding out, followed by the runners.
And more than 100 school children ran a mile around Pittville Park as part of the schools' challenge.
Coventry Godiva Harriers runner Toby Spencer raced home to victory, with a time of 1hr 7mins, followed by Cheltenham Harrier David Roper, in 1hr 8mins.
David's team mate, John Parker, also from the Cheltenham Harriers, completed the top three, with a time of 1hr 9mins.
Winner Toby said: "Cheltenham was a great course to run, and the fantastic atmosphere certainly helped me to achieve not only a personal best time, but also my first top placing in a half marathon distance.
"I'm currently training for the New York marathon, my first full marathon, so winning at Cheltenham has certainly given me a confidence boost."
Sue Harrison, from Leamington Cycling and Athletics, won the women's category with a time of 1hr 20mins.
Seven runners from the Cheltenham Harriers were placed in top 10, with Ed Grazier from Cheltenham taking the top spot of the wheelchair participants.
With many of the runners doing the race for charity, Jon White, 35, from Montpellier, managed to raise about £500 for eating disorder charity Beat.
He said: "I thought it was a really good run. I enjoyed it, and this is the first time I've raced in a half marathon.
"My legs might be a bit stiff from the race the day after, but I'm sure with some rest I'll be able to get going again."
Traders in the town centre said they were pleased with the influx of people.
Amy Budd, from organisers GO2, said they were delighted with the turnout and "inspirational" crowd support shown by the residents. She said: "The race had a fantastic atmosphere. Cheltenham did itself proud."
■ For all the names of all the runners, turn to our eight-page Cheltenham Half Marathon supplement.