Merson has to settle for second place in 2018 Fulfords Five

PUBLISHED: 11:55 09 February 2018

The start of the SW Vets cross country championships at Sidford. Picture CHRIS WOODCOCK

The start of the SW Vets cross country championships at Sidford. Picture CHRIS WOODCOCK

Archant

Tom Merson, five-time winner of the Fulfords 5, had to settle for second place on Sunday in a scintillating edition of this event, which has been taking place for over 30 years, writes Cathy Newman.

The level of competition matched the splendid conditions, with Shaun Antell and Tom Merson establishing a big lead over the rest of the field from the first mile.

At the three-mile mark, Shaun, from Bideford, had built up a 20-metre lead, but Tom was still looking strong.

Coming in to the finish in the Strand, Tom was closing the gap, but the tape came too soon and he finished just seconds down, crossing the line in a time of 24:50, with the winner’s time recorded at 24:48.

The quality of these performances is clear: Shaun and Tom are the only people to have run under 25 minutes for this course since Stuart Hall ran 24:26 in 2001!

Rob Ellis was next Exmouth Harrier home, finishing sixth in a time of 27:07, and his performance points to the likelihood of an imminent 10k personal best.

Rob has been selected to represent Devon in the National Inter Counties Cross Country in March.

Wearing vest number one, Craig Butler turned in a creditable performance with 33:18, but it was in the men’s over 75 category that Exmouth really showed their strength!

Ray Elston was the winner in 40:08, with Mike Allen running 47:33 and Mike Keep clocked a time of 48:50. For the ladies, Lisa Hatchard did 37 minutes exactly, Hayley Johns 42:57 and Lyn Curtis was home in 43:02. There were 326 finishers, making this one of the biggest fields for several years.

In other events, Exmouth Harrier Ryan Snell took part in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon and he completed what was a hilly run in a time of 76:15 for fourth place.

In London’s Olympic Park 10k, Des White won the M60 race in 44:21 with wife Alison finishing in second place in the F55 category with her time being 49:32.

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