David Weir took his sixth successive win at the 2017 adidas Silverstone Half Marathon today (Sunday) as part of his build-up towards the London Marathon in April. The multiple Paralympic champion was the first racer across the Finish Line at the world-famous Silverstone circuit in a time of 47:30 on a damp and drizzly day that saw thousands of runners race at the home of British motorsport.
In the women’s wheelchair race, Nikki Emerson took her fourth Silverstone win, finishing in 65:38, while in the mass race David Hudson took the victory in the men’s race in 72:15, with Tori Green first woman in 82:21.
Like so many of the runners taking part in the race today, Weir was using the event to test his fitness ahead of the Virgin Money London Marathon in April.
“The conditions were tough today,” Weir said moments after crossing the Finish Line. “This was my first race since Rio and it feels good to be back. I felt a bit rusty, to be honest, so it was nice to get out here and race.”
Weir will target his seventh win at the London Marathon, which would make him the race’s most successful ever competitor.
“I will get on the Start Line in April and do the best I can do. I’ve got a training camp in Portugal and then I’ll race in Paris before heading to London. Marcel Hug is the man to beat at the moment and we’re all going to try to stop him winning in London.”
In the women’s wheelchair race, Nikki Emerson was delighted to take her fourth victory, after winning the first three editions of the event between 2009 and 2011.
“It was very wet out there but I really enjoyed it,” she said afterwards. “The adidas Silverstone Half was the first race I ever did after I broke my back so it has a special place in my heart. I love it here because all the races organised by London Marathon Events are so easy and fun to be a part of; it was enjoyable rather than fast today.”
Once the wheelchair races had got underway, the indie-rock group Scouting for Girls were the official starters of the mass race. After dropping the chequered flag, the three bandmates – Roy Stride, Greg Churchouse-Gold and Peter Ellard – joined the field to run the race as part of their build-up to the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 23 April. The band will complete 10 challenges in 2017 to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society after Stride’s mother was diagnosed with the illness in the last years of her life.
Another famous face taking on the half marathon challenge today was actor Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale in the hit BBC soap EastEnders.
“It was a really enjoyable experience,” the actor said after crossing the Finish Line. “The marshals and people helping out around the course were brilliant."
Woodyatt is also preparing to run his first marathon in London in April, when he will run alongside his son Sam to support the Air Ambulance Service. The pair agreed to run for the charity last summer but, in a cruel twist of fate, Sam ended up relying on an air ambulance when he was hit by a car in September and rushed to hospital.
Sam is now on the road to recovery and determined to run the marathon alongside his famous dad who admits, whatever Sam's fitness, his son will still be the first Woodyatt to cross the Finish Line on The Mall in April.
“We’ve been realistic in training and as we’ve got a bit better we’ve added a bit of jogging in there. When we were getting close to the end today, we thought, ‘We could nick under three hours here’, and we did. We were about 20 minutes ahead of what we expected, so we’re well happy.”
In the mass race, David Hudson was the first man across the Finish Line. The 36-year-old was a latecomer to running, taking up the sport 18 months ago after tipping the scales at 13 stone and deciding that he needed to lose a bit of weight.
“I went along to some parkrun events with a friend who did them regularly and really got into it,” said Hudson, who won by more than half a minute. “I did my first race, a 10K, about a year ago and came sixth so I thought that was a decent result and carried on. This was my third half marathon, and I chipped another 45 seconds off my personal best so I’m happy with my performance. It was a bit lonely out there but it was good pacing practice as I’m running my first marathon in Brighton in April and doing the London Marathon two weeks later, when I’ll target a sub 2:30 finish.
In the women’s race, Tori Green of Rugby and Northampton Running Athletic Club finished in 82:21, inspired to put in a fast time by the hallowed Silverstone racetrack.
“I love F1 so it was really good to run here and go past the pits, and especially coming down mile 11 where the start grid is,” the 32-year-old said.
It’s a flattish course so I was hoping to get close to my PB today, but it wasn’t to be. I was about three minutes outside it.
"I didn’t start running until my late twenties after my husband encouraged me. I did a few local races and did alright so I tried a bit harder and discovered I’m not too bad at it and want to keep pushing myself. It’s so encouraging to see so many people running these days. I think a lot of people out there are the same. They want to see how far can they can push their bodies. I want to see how much faster and further can I go.”
A handful of runners out there today also pushed themselves to the limit by attempting to set new Guinness World Records. The colourful collection of competitors included Andy McMahon, who succeeded in setting a new world record of 2:10:15 for the fastest half marathon wearing chainmail (upper body) and Paul Cousins, who finished in 2:24:06 to set a new world record for the fastest half marathon dressed as a three-dimensional aircraft (male).
Top Five Men (wheelchair race)
1st: David Weir (Weir Archer Academy) 47:30
2nd: JohnBoy Smith (Weir Archer Academy) 49:51
3rd: Bret Crossley (Leeds and Bradford Triathlon Club) 54:14
4th: Callum Hall 54:40
5th: Ben Rowlings (Coventry Godiva Harriers) 54:41
Top Four Women (wheelchair race)
1st: Nikki Emerson 1:05:38
2nd: Jen Warren (Coventry Godiva Harriers) 1:25:21
3rd: Bethany Evans 1:28:52
4th: Sophie Taylor (Coventry Godiva Harriers) 1:30:20
Top Five Men
1st: David Hudson (BRJ Run and Tri) 1:12:15
2nd: Mark Ince (Birmingham Running Athletics and Triathlon Club) 1:12:59
3rd: Allan Stewart (Chiltern Harriers AC) 1:13:25
4th: Mark Newton (Springfield Striders RC) 1:13:39
5th: Sean Fenwick (Harborough AC) 1:14:45
Top Five Women
1st: Tori Green (Rugby & Northampton AC) 1:22:21
2nd: Jane Faram (Southville Running Club) 1:24:53
3rd: Julie Warner 1:25:01
4th: Rebecca Mayles (Redway Runners) 1:25:14
5th: Emma Styles (Hinckley Running Club) 1:25:29