Gemma Steel further cemented her status as one of the leading female distance runners in the UK by taking second place at Sunday’s Bupa Great South Run. Despite setting a substantial PB, the 28-year-old was narrowly beaten in a sprint finish with Belaynesh Oljira, with James Rungaru first in the men’s competition.
Steel mapped out her intentions early and set a quick early pace to break away in a group containing Oljira, and Kenyan duo Doris Changeiywo and Linet Masai. With three miles remaining the contest boiled down to Oljira and Steel, with the Ethiopian proving stronger during an enthralling sprint finish.
Oljira crossed the line in 52:40, with the Charnwood runner just two seconds behind in 52:42—representing a PB of over one minute. After coming second in last month’s Bupa Great North Run, Steel joked: “I came here to try and win it and I’m the bridesmaid again, never the bride.”
In the men’s competition, 21-year-old James Rungaru headed a star-studded field that included Abraham Kiplimo of Uganda and fellow Kenyans Emmanuel Bett - the defending champion - and Joel Kimutai the surprise winner of the Great Birmingham Run from Bett the weekend before. Rungaru finished in 46:31, with Abraham Kiplimo second (46:38) and Joel Kimutai third (47:21).
Over 16,000 runners took part in what was the event’s 25th anniversary. Starting in Southsea, the course saw the field move through Old Portsmouth, home of the Portsmouth Cathedral and Royal Garrison Church, before entering the Historic Dockyard. The route also moved past the Royal Navy’s current naval ships, and some of the most famous in the world – including HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the museum which houses the Mary Rose.