1 Mar

Ups And Downs At Thorpe Park

Vernon and Overall at Thorpe Park HalfThere were some ups and downs at the inaugural Thorpe Park Half Marathon but they were not of the roller coaster variety. This brand new event, based at one of Britain's most popular theme parks, boasted Olympic athletes and a fast, flat course with more than 3,000 competing. 

Highlights of the race included the presence of Rio Olympic 5000m and 10,000m athlete, Andy Vernon (Aldershot), winner in 1:05:26 from Scott Overall (Blackheath, 1:06:23), who ran the London 2012 marathon after hitting peak form with 2:10:55 for fifth in Berlin Marathon 2011. Third place went to the well travelled Ben Russell (Liverpool Harriers, 1:10:30). 
The women's race also featured an international winner in Georgie Bruinvels (Aldershot, 1:15:48), who was second in last year's IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. Runners-up were Sarah Gruber (Invicta East Kent, 1:24:14) and Amy Sole (Cornwall, 1:24:45).
There were 170 finishers inside 90 minutes with Tina Wise (Didcot Runners) exactly on that threshold. The halfway athlete was Rachel Bartlett (1:56:49) and 3,009 finished in 3:25:35.
Thorpe Park provided the spectacular backdrop for this race on fully closed roads. The start and finish was within the theme park but most of the course was on country roads, either side of the M25 around the venue, that were not quite as flat as many entrants were expecting.
Although most post race comments were favourable and there were a host of personal bests, despite some challenging weather conditions in the early stages, there was an unusual issue with the all important bling, resulting in a medal that might just become a collectors item. 
The venue was hired by the race organisers, Greenwood Events, but the Thorpe Park logo was not trademark approved in time for it to be included as anticipated, so the final medal does rather look as if someone has bitten a piece off! 
Details of this exciting addition to the calendar and full results are on the Thorpe Park Half website and on Facebook.