ANDY VERNON cruised to victory in the Great Birmingham Run half marathon to deny clubmate Chris Thompson back-to-back wins in the Second City.
The 30-year-old Olympian broke Thompson, 2015's winner in dramatic circumstances, at the eight-mile mark and made light work of the victory, clocking 63.32, with Thompson 20 seconds behind with a time of 63.54.
It marked an Aldershot Farnham and District AC one-two finish, with Belgian Koen Naert 30 seconds behind in 64.24.
It was Vernon's first half marathon since the Great North Run in 2014, with the European 10,000m silver medallist looking in fine condition following his appearance at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro over the summer.
Elizeba Cherono took the victory in the women's race, the Dutchwoman easing home in 73.42 to finish more than a minute ahead of Romania's Madelina Florea who clocked 74.45 and Briton Lauden Deadman in 74.54.
Conditions were testing early on in the half marathon before the sun eventually came out for the majority of the club runners in the mass participation event which saw more than 16,000 take part.
And Vernon was delighted to take his maiden victory over a distance which he rarely races.
“I'm absolutely delighted,” said Vernon, who will lock horns with Thompson once again for the Great South Run ten-miler next week.
“The support was great all the way round and there were very few parts of the course where there wasn't any support. That keeps you going, that helps us as athletes.
“It's a very interesting course to run, full of twists and turns, uphills, downhills. “You don't notice how far you're running on those types of courses.
“I tried to run strong, run hard, I made a move before eight miles. It made it a long run home, but I run 18 miles in training so I was prepared for it. It is a distance that I don't run very often but it's great to win. I haven't won anything for a while.
“Chris was running behind me for a bit, he wasn't dropping off but I thought the time to go was there. If he was struggling the time to go was now. I tried my luck, if he comes with me then I'll slow back down but I felt strong and held on.
“Once it came to the hill he thought he wasn't going to catch me so the gap extended. I wasn't concentrating on what was going behind but I noticed the gap was bigger and I knew I was alright from there.”
Cherono, meanwhile, was an early leader and held her position to ease to victory. While the 73.42 was some way outside her 71.00 personal best, the 28-year-old was not overly troubled on her way to a maiden victory in the Great Birmingham Run.
And she said: “It's always a nice feeling, winning. It felt really good from the start. I wasn't able to push it a lot but I met some guys on the course who pushed me to it, so I'm really happy to get the win.”