Nice guys really do succeed sometimes and this axiom was clearly evident at the Great Welsh Marathon at Llanelli on Sunday (7 May) when Virgin Money London Marathon hero Matt Rees swept into Festival Fields in first place in 2:50:03, just two weeks after helping exhausted runner David Wyeth to the finish line on The Mall.
Matt Rees (Swansea Harriers) had won the hearts of the nation when he sacrificed his own excellent run in London to ensure that a fellow competitor could safely finish the course. His late decision to compete in Wales' longest running and South Wales' only marathon was rewarded with victory by four and a half minutes from David Hazell (Caerphilly Runners, 2:54:35) and Neil Jones (Pontyclun Road Runners, 3:01:43).
The course at Llanelli includes the magnificent Millennium Coastal Path to Burry Port and back. Weather conditions were cool and overcast, ideal for fast times and personal bests.
Once he had caught his breath, Matt said: “The Great Welsh Marathon Champion - I can't quite believe it. I really cherished the support from both spectators and other runners. It was probably the friendliest race I've run. With many out-and-backs we encouraged each other as we passed. Cheering on passing runners helped pass the miles and it made the whole experience one to remember. Every marathon has a story. That's why I keep coming back.”
The top three women were Katie Warren (3:26:50), Michelle Lennaghan (3:44:02) and Melissa Myles (3:46:56). The main event was supported by the Great Welsh Half Marathon where the winners were Ian Harris (Swansea Harriers, 1:11:46) and Celia Boothman (1:28:50).
David Martin-Jewell, managing director of Front Runner Events Ltd, said: “We are overwhelmed by the fantastic feedback we have received about our event so far. We really have a fantastic team of volunteers and sector heads who do an incredible job to make our events a great success. I am extremely proud to be a part of the Front Runner team and very excited for our next big race: the JCP Swansea Half Marathon next month.”
Entries for Great Welsh Marathon and Half Marathon 2018 open on Friday (12 May) and full details are available now on the race website
Photo courtesy Great Welsh Marathon