Olympian Eilish McColgan smashes course record at Percy Pud 10k race in Sheffield
Olympian Eilish McColgan smashed the course record at the Percy Pud 10k race in Sheffield today, as a new men's mark was also set.
The Rio 2016 5,000m finalist crossed the line in Loxley in 32m32s, knocking more than 80 seconds off the previous women’s best.
Mohammad Abu-Rezeq became the first man to break the 30 minute barrier in the event as the 31-year-old father-of-two from Manchester scorched home in 29m57s.
More than 2,000 runners completed the scenic route and, while some had their eyes on a trophy or new personal best, for many the atmosphere and of course the Christmas pudding handed out to all finishers were ample reward.
Now in its 24th year, the annual race has become South Yorkshire’s most popular 10k, according to the organisers at Steel City Running Club, with the limited places all snapped up within hours of becoming available.
The puddings are handed out in memory of the ‘legendary northern comic runner’ who lends the race its name, as a Christmas pudding and custard was apparently his main energy source when competing.
This year, the traditional luxury 2lb Christmas pudding was accompanied by a packet of custard powder, to mark 70 years since Percy won his first race.
While the elite runners tussled for the top spots, and the Â£1,000 prize for a new course record, an unofficial side contest for the fastest finisher dressed as a pudding proved nearly as competitive.
Tom Russell, from Netheredge, took the honours this year, ahead of his old friends from Sheffield’s All Saints Catholic High School, David Jones and Carl Mullooly.
“It’s a tremendous honour, but mostly dressing up is just a good excuse for not running that fast,” he joked.
Their costumes were put in the shade somewhat on a glorious morning by Travis Hallam, from Dungworth, who dressed as a Christmas tree in aid of the Sheffield Hospitals Charity, and still made it round in a respectable 1h5m. You can sponsor Travis at his JustGiving page.
Peter Knight, a Tata Steel worker from Stocksbridge, also caught the eye by dressing as his favourite tipple - a bottle of Farmers Blonde from Bradfield Brewery - and still clocking an impressive 47m.
Although he got plenty of support from spectators, it seems not all his fellow runners were so impressed.
“When you pass someone you can hear them groan because no one wants to finish behind someone dressed as a bottle. Everyone’s trying to beat you,” he said.
Also making up the fancy dress contingent was Ashley Middleton, aged 48, from Tankersley, Barnsley, who hoofed it round the course dressed as a reindeer.
"I've done this race three or four times and it's absolutely brilliant," said Ashley, who ran alongside his wife Tracey.
"The costume's pretty warm but the adoration from everyone shouting is great. One person thought I was a moose but everyone else got that I was a reindeer."
David Gregory, aged 36, from Crookes, said he was delighted the weather behaved itself after 'blowing a gale' when he entered for the first time last year.
Jim Bell, of Stannington, was running the race for a fifth year. He said he kept returning because he found it 'exhilarating to run in such beautiful countryside'.
"This race keeps me training through the dark mornings and evenings when you're more inclined the stay in bed. It also helps that it's one of the flattest 10ks you can run in Sheffield," added the 42-year-old, whose wife Ann was also running, for the first time, this year.
Rachel Cullen and her fiancé Gavin Dodd travelled from Halifax to take part, and the pair, who met through running, had plenty to celebrate.
As well as recently getting engaged, this was the first race since Rachel - who pens a blog about running and mental health called Rachel Cullen Writes - signed a new book deal.
"I write about the link between mental health issues and how running helps me and many other people overcome them," she said.
"Today's a perfect example. The sun's shining, we've got our Christmas puddings and there's a great community feel. Who needs Prozac?"
Men29m57s: Mohammad Abu-Rezeq - Altrincham & District AC31m46s: Gareth Lowe - Clowne RRC32m07s: Jonathan Shields - City of Sheffield AC
Women32m32s: Eilish McColgan - Dundee Hawkhill Harriers34m40s: Julie Briscoe - Wakefield District Harriers & AC35m51s: Nicola Squires - Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield AC