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Thousands of runners hit the city’s streets today to take on the Great Bristol Half Marathon 2016. The 13.1 mile course took in many of the areas top attractions including the SS Great Britain, the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Avon Gorge.
Fun runners and charity fundraisers were joined by a competitive elite field, which featured some of the best amateur athletes from around the region.
Honorary starter, local Olympian Emily Diamond, set the runners off earlier today.
Emily, who won a bronze medal as part of the 4×400 GB relay team in Rio said, “It’s brilliant to be back home starting this race. Despite the rain earlier this morning everyone is in good spirits and the atmosphere is great.
“Two of my colleagues are taking part today so it’s really nice to be able to wish them and everyone else good luck as they get on their way.”
Local Bristol & West AC athlete Jenny Spink took the top spot in the women’s race in an impressive time of 1:14:58, almost four minutes ahead of her nearest rival, Clara Evans of Pontypridd Roadents RC, who came second with 1:18:55, third place went to Gemma Bridge of Oxford City AC who finished in 1:19:47.
Winner Jenny said, “After finishing third last year and second in 2014 it’s brilliant to finally win my home city race.
“The support I had out on course was great especially along the Portway where the other runners were cheering me the whole way, I really enjoyed it!”
In the men’s race, local runner Tom Merson of Bristol & West finished second to James Connor of Kent AC who crossed the line in 1:07:54, Merson followed in 1:08:41, with Jack Bancroft of Wells AC taking third with a time of 1:09:11.
James said, ”The last time I took part in the race I was fourth and I wasn’t expecting to win today so I’m absolutely delighted.”
Also taking part was celebrity author and presenter, Nell McAndrew, a seasoned runner who has recently written her own Guide to Running.
Nell said, “It’s a fantastic flat course and I was very happy with my time.
“I ran for my two chosen charity’s Cancer Research UK and Alzheimer’s and I met some really lovely people along the way.”
Bristol charities were well represented also, with the local nominated charity of the event, the Grand Appeal, Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity, fielding 84 runners who were hoping to raise in the region of £20,000.
Suzanne Maverick, fundraising manager, The Grand Appeal, said, “We are thrilled to be the official local charity partner of this year’s Great Bristol Half Marathon! It’s been amazing to meet so many of our truly terrific fundraisers today who are raising vital funds to support Bristol Children’s Hospital.”
75 friends and family supporting the Dan Hickey Fund, in memory of local man Dan, who was tragically killed in a hit and run in Clifton last year, also took part. The team – which included his mum, dad, brother and sister, as well as friends from his rugby team Bristol Saracens and former classmates from the Bristol Cathedral School – were running to raise funds to benefit organisations that allow local young people to access sport and drama, two of Dan’s big loves in life.
The event, which was first staged in 1989 joined the Great Run series for the first time this year.
Andy Graffin, project manager of the Great Bristol Half Marathon said, “It’s been an exceptional day at the Great Bristol Half marathon today, we’d like to say a big well done to everyone that took part.
“We have worked closely with our partners Bristol City Council to deliver the event so would like to take this opportunity to thank them, the hundreds of local volunteers who make the experience so memorable for runners and the people of Bristol, who came out in their thousands to cheer them on. “