Stone flies flag for Plymouth in new-look Half Marathon
PLYMOUTH distance king Kairn Stone finished best of the non-professional athletes at yesterday's Plymouth Half Marathon as the city and Hoe again turned into a run-fest with the best backdrop on the race calendar.
With African runners taking the top four places, Hele's School teacher Stone came home fifth in 70 minutes 20 seconds, with indefatigable Commonwealth Games marathon runner Stuart Hall eighth (75.17) and Tamar Trotter Pete Waumsley ninth (76.57).
Vicky Pincombe made up for coming second in the elite women's race last year by finishing as fastest female and 25th overall.
Bideford's Pincombe clocked one hour 21.58, with Poole Runners' Helen Dyke next best and 37th overall in 1.23.10. Plymouth Harrier Ami Yetton (55th) was not far behind and third lady in 1.25.32.
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Pincombe said: "The course has changed for the better I think. But it was very windy. The last three miles were hard."
Both Stone and city athlete Hall were pleased with their times and places and also gave the event's new course for 2012 the thumbs up.
Stone said: "After those first four guys it was just me and the US Marines, so there were two races really.
"We stuck together for about five miles and then I just pushed.
"The course is definitely faster. I didn't run particularly quick, but the wind was right in our faces coming back.
"As usual, the crowd were brilliant and cheered us all on, which was much appreciated."
Hall, who will be competing in the World Duathlon Championships in September, said: "It was well-organised, the course was quick and the crowd as always were fantastic.
"Under different conditions, this will be a fast course."
Meanwhile, race winner Peter Emese headed a bunch of firsts.
Emese was not only making his debut in the popular event, but it was the Kenyan's first stab at the distance.
Emese told Herald Sport afterwards he had not run so much as a half nor even a full marathon, being mainly a 10k and 6k athlete.
Emese was delighted with the support he received along the course from well-wishers and is keen to return to Plymouth to try for a better time.
"I enjoyed the race and my first time in Plymouth and would like to come back to try to do better," said Emese.
"It was my first ever half marathon and the course is very tough – there are so many hills in Plymouth.
"I think if I do come back and the wind is not so strong, then we can all aim for a quicker time.
"I am very happy to have won, though, and the people waving and cheering were very kind."
Emese's time of 66.34 was good enough to beat off the challenge of Ethiopian Teweros Shiferaw (66.45) who was runner-up for the second year running.
The leading pair were out on their own in terms of a meaningful challenge, with Tadele Geremew third in 68.38 and fourth-placed Zachary Kihara, over a minute behind the Ethiopian in 69.40.
Petty Officer Waumsley was running as part of the Royal Navy team vying to win back the Sea Challenge Cup from the formidable United States Marines.
It was not to be for Waumsley, who is bidding farewell to the navy in six months, and his fellow Britons, as with the Americans taking sixth and seventh positions, the trans-Atlantic trophy stays across the pond for another year.
Waumsley conceded defeat generously and said: "It's been an absolute pleasure to run against the US Marines. I've enjoyed our battles over the years."
Leading the US was Captain Sean Barrett (62.19) and team-mate Sergeant Tommy Kunish (62.28). Cosmo Gym boxer Gareth Smith surprised himself, finishing 22nd overall in a time of one hour, 21 minutes and 30 seconds.
The Plymouth super-flyweight and PTI in the Royal Navy said: "It was only my second half marathon, so I didn't know what to expect. But I loved the atmosphere. The people on roadside were very supportive."