Former classmates in running for race win

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Two Sheffield “exiles” returned to their home City to take the top prizes in the SIG Sheffield Half Marathon yesterday. John Franklin was an impressive winner with former schoolfriend Julian Lings winning a close race for second place.

Franklin and Lings, both aged 26, were in the same class at Birkdale School where the two were second row partners in the school rugby team.

Franklin, not known as a runner during his schooldays, now lives in London and works for the Metropolitan Police in whose colours he was running yesterday. He is starting to show real potential as a distance runner and got inside two-and-a-half hours in this year’s London Marathon.

In yesterday’s event, he set the pace for virtually the whole race.

An early challenger was Matthew Pearson (Holmfirth), but he failed to finish on a day when the temperature soared despite the early morning start.

Considering the heat, Franklin did well to clock a personal best time of 70:31, picking up a cheque for £500 for his effort. When asked how he felt afterwards he said he was ‘tired, warm and very happy’.

Lings, formerly with Sheffield Running Club, has joined Enfield and Haringey since moving to work in Hertfordshire, but is always keen to return for races in South Yorkshire and also achieved a personal best time, of 71:10.

Lings had to work hard in the closing stages to hold off Sheffielder Mark Rushbrook, last year’s runner-up.

Hallamshire runner Nicola Squires followed two runner-up spots in this race with a victory. Her time of 81:22 beat her previous best set in this race five years ago.

In a field approaching the 6,000 mark, Squires finished 41st overall.

Second woman was last year’s bronze medallist Nicki Nealon from Huncote, Leicestershire, while

Totley club member and radiotherapy student Polly Veazey-French, from Matlock, was third in a personal best of 84:47.

Results

1 J Franklin (Met Police) 70:31; 2 J Lings (Enfield/Sheff RC) 71:10; 3 M Rushbrook (Unattached) 71:15; 4 L Stubbs (Redhill) 72:50; 5 G Lowe (Clowne RR) 72:55; 6 P Bangani (Salford) 73:51; 7 A May (Valley Striders) 73:56; 8 B Morley (Unattached) 73:59; 9 S Skates (West Cheshire) 74:30; 10 J Stevens (Unattached) 74:36.

Women

1 N Squires (Hallamshire) 71:22; 2 N Nealon (Huncote) 73:17; 3 P Veazey-French (Totley) 74:47; 4 G Bermingham (Unattached) 86:37; 5 T Johnson (Dewsbury) 87:35; 6 S Fawcett (Hallamshire) 87:53; 7 C Spencer (Kimberworth) 88:37; 8 J Goorney (Wesham) 89:21; 9 L Smith (Holmfirth) 89:52; 10 A Dennison (Bingley) 90:08.

By ROGER MORTON

Athletics reporter

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