GEAR joy for Hallamshire Harriers ace in King’s Lynn as he beats ‘incredible’ veteran

The Grand East Anglia Run in King's Lynn. Pictured is men's winner Andrew Challenger. Picture: Ian B

The Grand East Anglia Run in King's Lynn. Pictured is men's winner Andrew Challenger. Picture: Ian Burt

Dark horse Andrew Challenger overcame one final hurdle in King's Lynn to continue his rise to prominence.

The 33-year-old was taking on only his second Bespak Grand East Anglia Run yesterday but beat a host of the event's recognised competitors to triumph. One, Adrian Mussett, took to the start line for the sixth time and remained a frontrunner until the dying stages of the 10k race.

Hallamshire Harriers' Challenger eventually pulled clear to cross the line in 31 minutes and 42 seconds. While that that may have been nowhere near the 30.51 personal best he set in March, the improving winner's success was clearly another step in the right direction.

'I've been doing the London Marathon quite a lot, and this is a week after, but this year I didn't do London so I thought I'd give it a whirl and had a good run,' said the modest champion from Sheffield, who finished 12th in Lynn six years ago.

'A lot of what happens is based on who turns up. I'm sort of happy with my time but, rather than chasing the time, it was more about going for a decent position. It became a battle between the two of us (Mussett and I). To be fair, for a vet (veteran age-group), he's an incredible runner.

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'He's really strong and he seemed to hang in there for ever. He was sort of breaking my heart a little bit. With a mile to go I kicked a little bit and I think it took the legs out of him. Hats off to him though. For a vet 40 (to 49), he's an incredible runner.'

Mussett followed 10 seconds later to clinch his second GEAR runner-up trophy. The 44-year-old, who has never finished outside the top five, was far from downbeat though and is already looking forward to pounding the town's streets again next year.

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The Colchester Harriers stalwart said: 'I'm very pleased. It was very windy out there and the competition was really good. It's still one of the very best organised races. There's so many marshals, the course is great – perfect. I always think I've got a chance but towards the end I could see that he was very strong. When he got that little gap, once one is there it's very hard to then close it. He ran really well, he's very, very strong.

'I'm always desperate to win it. Hopefully I can win it next year.'

Lincoln Wellington's GEAR debutant Sophie Cowper, inset, beat Ipswich Jaffa's Helen Davies by 20 seconds to lift the women's prize.

Cowper, 25, who finished 16th overall, said: 'It's quite a fast course and it seemed a nice atmosphere. I've got some people who recommended it so I thought I'd give it a go. My aim was to run under 34 minutes but it was quite windy so it wasn't really conducive to that sort of time. I'm really pleased to win.'

Gary Donald won the four-person wheelchair race to secure back-to-back GEAR successes.

Top 20 finishers

Men: 1 Andrew Challenger (Hallamshire Harriers, 2261), Senior, 31:42; 2 Adrian Mussett (Colchester Harriers, 680), 40-49, 31:52; 3 Richard Brown (Lincoln Wellington, 1733), Senior, 32:03; 4 Jonathan Laybourn (Highgate Harriers, 5), Senior, 32:57; 5 Carl Goose (Bure Valley Harriers, 1333), Senior, 32:57; 6 Tom Bracegirdle (Muddy Mucky Munkeys, 2074), Senior, 33:04; 7 Iain Bailey (Sleaford Striders, 2361), Senior, 33:08; 8 Andrew Leach (North Herts, 1882), 50-59, 33:15; 9 Matthew Williams (Notts, 1858), Senior, 33:17; 10 Matt Pyatt (Ryston Runners, 2333), Senior, 33:28; 11 Jeff Prest (Trafford, 1727), 40-49, 33:30; 12 James O'Neill (Ryston Runners, 2303), Senior, 33:35; 13 Samuel Coyne (Bure Valley Harriers, 1525), Senior, 34:36; 14 Callum Robert Stanforth (Ryston Runners, 711), Senior, 34:37; 15 Iain Robertson (Tri-Anglia, 2242), 40-49, 34:45; 16 Danny Rock (Felixstowe, 1288), Senior, 34:51; 17 Nicholas Bensley (Ryston Runners, 509), 40-49, 35:10; 18 Jay Fallaize (Higham Harriers, 1785), Senior, 35:10; 19 Nathan Jones (Higham Harriers, 1661), Senior, 35:11; 20 Andy Gardiner (Cambridge & Coleridge, 2362), Senior, 35:11

Women: 1 Sophie Cowper (Lincoln Wellington, 1955), Senior, 34:47; 2 Helen Davies (Ipswich Jaffa, 514), Senior, 35:07; 3 Rachel Doherty (Higham Harriers, 1640), Senior, 35:17; 4 Sarah Stradling (Colchester Harriers, 3), 40-49, 36:11; 5 Claire Somerton (Cambridge & Coleridge, 1116), Senior, 37:01; 6 Philippa Taylor (Nene Valley Harriers, 1547), 40-49, 37:02; 7 Emma Patel (Winchester & District, 1772), Senior, 37:11; 8 Sara Bird (Ipswich Jaffa, 1562), Senior, 38:10; 9 Bethan Everson (Shapwick Runners, 1803), Senior, 38:43; 10 Laura Thomas (Ipswich Jaffa, 2304), Senior, 39:02; 11 Melissa Neal (March, 433), 40-49, 39:24; 12 Alexandra Smith (Wymondham, 1300), 40-49, 40:31; 13 Maureen McCarthy (West Suffolk, 1598), 50-59, 40:53; 14 Emma Penniston (Nene Valley Harriers, 1009), Senior, 40:56; 15 Stephanie Rogers (Unattached, 1811), Senior, 41:02; 16 Rachel Bull (Unattached, 1932), Senior, 41:03; 17 Viv Malt (London City, 809), 40-49, 41:19; 18 Amy Chapman (Ryston Runners, 1827), Senior, 41:20; 19 Nicky Roger (Ryston Runners, 1265), 40-49, 41:20; 20 Tracey Greenway (Derby, 2392), 50-59, 41:43

* Position, name, club, vest number, category, time

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