Half marathon winner says he'll be back

PUBLISHED: 09:20 12 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

Kenyan man of steel Simon Tonui has unfinished business after defying stamina-sapping conditions yesterday to win the 22nd City of Norwich half marathon at the Norfolk Showground.

Kenyan man of steel Simon Tonui has unfinished business after defying stamina-sapping conditions yesterday to win the 22nd City of Norwich half marathon at the Norfolk Showground.

Even the globe-trotting African admitted the oppressive heat had taken its toll as he finished more than six minutes (1:10:26) outside last year's record breaking mark set by Neo Molema.

The 27-year-old front runner controlled the race perfectly around the two-lap circuit, weaving through nearby villages to ease home 20 seconds ahead of Highgate Harriers Benjamin Noad. Sixth-placed Norfolk Gazelles runner Tim Lenton (1:20:43) headed the local contingent.

Belgrave Harriers' Birhan Dagne confirmed her pedigree with a comfortable repeat victory in the women's race - her time of (1:17:18) being almost two minutes quicker than last year. Norwich Road Runners' Anne Flanagan (1:34:36) was the top local lady in fourth place.

“I'm coming back - definitely,” said Tonui. “I've never run a half marathon that slow before. Usually I run around the 62 to 64 minute mark - that is what I did when I won in Leeds earlier this year.

“It was hard work. I race in Asia, Europe and back home but the heat was something else. I'm very disappointed. This was my first time in Norwich. It's a good course and if the weather was cooler I think you could see a very fast time.

“I knew if I got stuck in a group of runners I could be in trouble so the plan was to take it out and if I felt good to push the pace. I'll go back to Kenya for a break and then come back for the Great North Run in September.”

Sun block and ice cream should have been the only accessories required on a morning when the mercury topped a scorching 29C.

A hardy 1,000 strong band decided otherwise - bravely reaching for the running shoes. Among them was Norwich lightweight boxer Jackson Williams, a man who went toe-to-toe with Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan earlier this year.

The 24-year-old warmed up for his charity-trek across America next year in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) association and the Bryan Gunn leukaemia appeal with a top 40 finish in 1:33:16.

“Man, that was tough - give me the ring anytime,” he said. “Everything I'm doing at the moment is geared to running in America so these temperatures are good preparation. It was seriously hot. I had a mate who tried to go with the leaders but that was a bad idea. It's about pacing yourself. If you feel okay then step it up. The problem is your legs just feel so heavy.

“I did a lot of long distance running when I was younger before turning pro and I've got a 100-mile race in Glossop next month. I should've been doing the America trip this year but when I got a chance to box at Carrow Road and then the Khan fight I had to put it on the back burner.”

Race director Hugh McGill said: “Running 13 miles in near 30C temperatures is seriously hard work. We would like to say a special thanks to the residents of Marlingford. They were excellent, coming out onto the route to cool down the runners with ice cubs and hoses.”

McGill also paid tribute to the children who contested the inaugural 'Run for Louise' 3km fun run alongside the main race.

The Louise Willgrass Tsunami Fund has already raised more than £300,000 in just over three months to help build and equip a new school in Phuket, Thailand, for local schoolchildren orphaned by the 2004 tsunami.


t Leading men: 1 Simon Tonui (unattached) 1:10:26 ,2 Benjamin Noad (Highgate) 1:10:44, 3 Tomas Abyu (Salford) 1:11:04, 4 Alexander Tate (Muddy Mucky Monkeys) 1:19:18, 5 Tim Lenton (Norfolk Gazelles) 1:20:41, 6 Richard Moore (Waveney Valley AC) 1:22:44, 7 Max Bezance (Ful-On Tri) 1:23:33, 8 Robin Tuddenahm (Serpentine) 1:23:43, 9 Jonathan Blunden (unattached) 1:23:54, 10 Paul Davis (unattached) 1:24:05.

t Leading women: 1 Birhan Dagne (Belgrave) 1:17:18, 2 Ogla Kimaiyo (unattached) 1:20:49, 3 Amy Waterlow (Sale) 1:20:55, 4 Anne Flanagan (Norwich Rd Runners) 1:34:36, 5 Haley Suttle (Newmarket) 1:35:59, 6 Elizabeth McKie (St Albans Striders) 1:36:41, 7 Terrie Williams (Norwich Rd Runners) 1:39:28, 8 Michelle Farman (unattached) 1:39:56, 9 Vicky Reynolds (Wymondham) 1:40:40, 10 Yvonne Youngman (Norfolk Gazelles) 1:41:18

t Age group category winners. Men. 17-39: Simon Tonui (unattached) 1:10:26. 40-44: Richard Moore (Waveney Valley) 1:22:44. 45-49: Russell Clarke (Wymondham) 1:31:04. 50-54: Terry Epps (Wymondham) 1:27:13. 55-59: Russell Devitt (Shaftesbury) 1:33:52. 60-64: Jim Hayes (Nth Norfolk) 1:38:14. 65+: Roger Mawer (Lowestoft Rd Runners) 1:42:33.

t Women. 17-39: Birhan Dagne (Belgrave) 1:17:17. 40-44: Haley Suttle (Newmarket) 1:35:59. 45-49: Gail Pryke (Ipswich Tri) 1:44:12, 50-54: Yvonne Parker (Norwich Rd Runners) 1:49:03. 55-59: Veronica Manly (Wymondham) 1:58:58, 60-64: Rita Peck (unattached) 1:54:38.

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