Sidmouth runner Kirsteen Welch sparkles at SW Inter Counties Road Championships

Kirsteen Welch on her way to victory at Chippenham. Picture SIDMOUTH RUNNING CLUB

Kirsteen Welch on her way to victory at Chippenham. Picture SIDMOUTH RUNNING CLUB - Credit: Archant

The Chippenham Half Marathon was selected as the event for this year’s SW Inter Counties Road Championships, writes Hamish Spence.

There were teams from all over the South West in attendance all there with the opportunity of winning team medals.

This half marathon took pace along a fast and pancake flat route and is known for competitors achieving personal best times, as Kirsteen Welch was to find out.

The event which is organised by Chippenham Harriers, started by heading through the town centre of Chippenham and out into the rural roads.

The route passes through the villages of Stanley The Tythertons, Avon, Kellaways, Langley Burrell and back into the town to finish at the Chippenham Sports Club.

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This was a good opportunity for Kirsteen to pit herself against some top county road runners.

Her coach, Norman Wilson gave the advice for her to: "Go out with the top women, hang on in there and see how you do," and that is exactly what happened!

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Annabel Granger, representing Bristol went out fast right from the start (a sub six-minutes-per-mile pace).

Kirsteen followed her immediately, fully expecting to blow up halfway around. But that never happened.

Sticking with Annabel, Kirsteen felt strong and comfortable with the pace. Mile eight passed, both ladies were still averaging a 'six and a bit minute miles' until mile nine when Kirsteen started to tire.

She had dropped back by about five metres! Giving herself a good talking too, digging deep and embracing the pain, Kirsteen picked up the pace and managed to close the gap.

At around mile 12, Kirsteen took the lead. She managed to hold on to that lead and even extended it all the way to the finish line.

With the crowd cheering her on, she took first place for the ladies in what was to be a new personal best (PB) time of 1:20:16.

Her previous PB was 1:24:18, she set back in February this year when taking part in the Gloucester half marathon. She has bittersweet memories of that event as she got injured not long afterwards.

Both Devon teams had a fantastic day, the ladies taking gold and the men's team the silver with Tom Merson also being first man across the finish line.

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