Ringland Half: Michael Eccles leads from the front at Ringland as Marie French retains ladies’ crown
PUBLISHED: 18:16 01 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:16 01 March 2020
Bure Valley Harriers’ Michael Eccles continued his excellent start to the year with victory at the Ringland Half Marathon.
The 39-year-old followed up his win at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships with a fine performance at the Norwich Road Runners event, coming home in a time of 1:12:24. Last year's winner Dom Blake (Reepham Runners) took second spot in 1:14:42 ahead of James Johnson (Norwich Road Runners) in 1:17:13.
"It was a good run and I really enjoyed the course," said Eccles. "I think it skirts the hills quite nicely - the wind was quite strong up the steep hill in the middle, which was quite tiring, and for the last two miles, but it was a good run and I'm pleased with the win.
"It was me, Dom and James (Johnson) for the first couple of miles but then in these long races you get into a bit of a rhythm and then I managed to open up a bit of a gap and from the two or three-mile marker I was on my own, but I like that.
"If you're in the lead on your own then I find that you can relax. I find it more frustrating being behind and chasing but that's just how I am."
Eccles now turns his attention to representing Norfolk at the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships in Loughborough next weekend before targeting a strong performance at the City of Norwich Half Marathon next month.
The cricket season then comes into play for Eccles, who admits he may have to target some of the midweek races as a result.
"I'll still do the races, especially the midweek ones, because I don't feel so tired for them," he added. "I'll do the Wroxham 5K Series but to be honest I'm better at these sorts of distances, 5K is a bit sharp for me these days!
"Some of these younger lads are a bit quick for me over 5K! I'll do all the events - there's no shame in getting out there and losing. I'll just do the races and the cricket as best as I can."
Eccles decided against taking up a place at the London Marathon as he does his best to steer clear of injury.
"I keep getting a lot of niggles - I've had quite a few since the Norfolk Cross Country Champs," he said. "I keep having to have two or three days off then I train and then it will be something else.
"You don't make as much progress as you'd like when it's like that. I'm not running as well as I was then but I'm still doing quite decent.
"It's why I didn't enter the (London) Marathon. I thought if I'm getting niggles now - do I really want to up the miles and break down again?"
Meanwhile, Marie French retained the ladies' overall race title at the Ringland Half Marathon. After winning last year's event in 1:24:27, she went 13 seconds quicker this year. French (unaffiliated) finished ahead of Leanne Finch (1:24:49) in second and Amy Beck (Norwich Road Runners) in third (1:25:05).
"It went really well - I had to run a few sections by myself but it's nice that there is a lot of support out on the course," said French. "It's really well marshalled and the stations are really good.
"I wanted to come back again this year because I enjoyed it so much before despite the weather! We got sunshine today, albeit windy."
French admitted she is keeping her plans for this year as fluid as she can.
"I'm not really training for anything, I just love running," added French, from King's Lynn. "I find it's great for my physical and mental health. I just get such a buzz from it so I just do my own thing now."
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