Gusting winds ruined Paul Tergat's chances of becoming the first man to run a half-marathon in under an hour yesterday at the Bupa Great North Run. Kenya's Olympic 10,000m silver medallist and five-times world cross-country champion, was on schedule until the final few miles, but then faded to finish in a time of 60min 31sec, which was 29 seconds off the UK all-comers' and course record.
"I believed it was possible to do, but alone it is hard," said Tergat, who had pulled away from the world-class field by the half-way point.
Tergat, who made his debut over the distance at the Flora London Marathon in April, had hoped that the Olympic and world champion, Gezahegne Abera, would have ensured a fast pace over the first 10 miles but the Ethiopian was never in contention. "I was well on schedule until that point. Then it became a race between myself and the clock. I tried my hardest to keep to the schedule, but over the last two miles the wind was very strong and I couldn't maintain the momentum. I still consider it to have been a great race. It proved I'm in great shape."
Kenyans took all three leading places, as Julius Kimtai, making his marathon debut, finished second in 61.36, with 1999 champion John Mutai third.
With Britain's leading marathon runner Jon Brown clearly hampered by the pelvic injury that has bedevilled his career for the past 18 months, it was left to veteran Paul Evans to make an impact as he finished fifth in 63min 15sec, the only top 10 finisher from the host nation.
In the absence of Paula Radcliffe, who chose not to defend her title in order to concentrate on retaining her world half-marathon title next month, the race was won by Kenya's world record holder, Susan Chepkemei, who edged clear of compatriot Joyce Chepchumba over the final 500m to win in 68min 40sec, the second fastest time ever. The London Marathon winner, Derartu Tulu, was third.
On Saturday, the Olympic 1500m champion Noah Ngeny threw away the lead 400 yards from home in the one-mile road race, the Kenyan eventually finishing seventh behind the winner Vyacheslav Shabunin. Ngeny appeared to be cruising to victory but was caught by the finishing speed of the Russian, who clocked 4min 04sec, a second ahead of the second-placed finisher, Jose Redolat of Spain.
Kelly Holmes, Britain's Olympic 800m bronze medallist, won the women's mile in 4min 40sec after a sprint finish.Reuse content