Gemma Steel made another successful return to the Midlands on Sunday with the Charnwood runner smashing her own half marathon course record to secure victory at the Great Birmingham Run. The event, which drew in almost 15,000 participants, saw 21-year-old Thomas Ayeko come out top in the men's field, with the Ugandan athlete making his competitive debut over 13.1 miles.
Steel, setting up a brisk early battle with Purity Kimetto, made a decisive break at around four miles to establish a half-minute lead by the six mile mark. Coping comfortably with the steep incline between 10-11 miles, Steel finished in 1:10:19 - a PB and more than two minutes quicker than the time she set in 2011.
Steel said she felt strong at the end of the race, suggesting that the step-up to marathon distance could be a possibility for 2014: "I came off the hill and felt felt great. I enjoyed the win. I felt really fresh and could have gone around again. Now I am going to keep going this winter. My first aim is the European Cross Country at the end of the year."
Ayeko, a former World Junior Cross Country silver medallist and Olympic Games and World Championships 10000m finalist, ensured his half marathon debut was a successful one by finishing in 1:02:32. The Ugandan runner broke clear between eight and nine miles, leaving Chris Thompson and Abdi Abdirahman to fight a close battle, with the Briton holding off the American to secure second place in 1:03:03.
Thompson, carrying on from his PB time at the Great North Run, said he was waiting for Ayeko to let up before the end: "I was hoping the Ugandan guy had underestimated how tough the last part would be and I could push through. But he's good and I'll get to know him better when I give him a lift home to London."
The event, formerly known as Birmingham Half Marathon, is the biggest half marathon event in the Midlands. Yesterday's race was started by quadruple gold medallist Ellie Simmonds and Lord Mayor of Birmingham, councillor Mike Leddy.
The 13.1 mile course began at 10.10am on Sandpits Parade behind Centenary Square and weaved through the city centre, past some of the city's most iconic landmarks.
For a full list of results visit our race listings page.