Irish eyes are smiling at half marathon in Sheffield

Womens winner Nicola Clay in the centre flanked by runner up Nicola Squires and thrd placed Nicola Nealon
Womens winner Nicola Clay in the centre flanked by runner up Nicola Squires and thrd placed Nicola Nealon
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Pre-race favourite Fergus Meade lived up to top-billing by romping home to victory in yesterday’s Sheffield Half Marathon.

Leeds City’s Meade was fourth in this race two years ago in 70:12. This time he found 71:32 good enough to win by a comfortable margin from Mark Rushbrook, an unattached runner who lives in Sheffield.

Mens winner Fergus Mead flanked by Mark Rushbrook and Andrew Challenger

Mens winner Fergus Mead flanked by Mark Rushbrook and Andrew Challenger

The Irishman was clear from the start to comfortably hold off Rushbrook and Hallamshire Harriers’ Andrew Challenger in third. Hallamshire’s Carl Thackery, 48, continues to defy the years and finished fifth in 75:10, 24 years after he ran 61:04 which still ranks fourth on the UK all time list.

It was a good day for the Harriers with five runners in the top 12 men’s finishers and Nicola Squires coming second in the women’s race behind Melton Mowbray athlete Nicola Clay.

Strong winds prevented Irish-born Meade from beating his personal best. But he was delighted to win in Sheffield for the first time. He said: “I came here to try and break my personal best. I went off at that pace and no one else really fancied it so I found myself alone fairly quickly.

“It was tough because as soon as we left the stadium we were into the wind but I kept telling myself once we turned round on Ecclesall Road we’d have the wind in our favour. It is really nice to get the win.

“I think I’ll be back next year. The support on the course was amazing, particularly on Ecclesall Road. It was unbelievable.”

First Sheffield athlete home in 1:12:30, Mark Rushbrook, said: “Meade kept a bit of a distance. I didn’t want to go too hard early on. I could see him but he was too far away to catch.”

Women’s winner, Stilton Striders athlete Nicola Clay, broke clear after two miles to hold off Nicola Squires and Nicki Nealon.

Clay said: “The last couple of miles were a bit tough. I was getting a bit tired. That last mile coming back to the stadium I was wanting it to end. It’s the first half marathon I’ve done in a year and half so I’m really pleased.”

Clay won this race three years ago and has also had a second place, clearly enjoying the popular Sheffield race which had over 4,500 finishers. For Squires it was her second runner up spot at Sheffield although she did have the consolation of winning the Yorkshire and South Yorkshire titles.