Sunday the 23rd of September saw 10 Phoenix runners make the trip West to tackle the Great Bristol Half Marathon. Hosted by Bitton Road Runners who have ties to our own Women's captain Bobby Searle, we were offered accommodation and a delicious Italian meal (wine optional) as part of the first phase of what promises to be a burgeoning exchange program.
When it came to race day an extremely variable forecast, which earlier in the week peaked at 43mph winds, actually delivered a cold and wet day that was suitable for some potentially fast times.
Our runners duly obliged with a series of Personal Bests across the board. The highlight was a sensational run from Milan Watson who finished 30th in a time of 75:23. After a series of misfortune and injuries, it's incredibly exciting to see what this breakthrough will lead to with Beach Head marathon around the corner.
Alex Cruttenden wasn't far behind in a very quick 76:49, followed by Tobias Bremer who is in strong shape 3 weeks before the Munich marathon. TB clocked 78:02 and bashed out 6 miles afterwards just for good measure.
Another superb run on the day was produced by Dave Powell who misleadingly said he was targeting 83 minutes on the drive to the event before delivering a magnificent 78:34 PB. Arm warmers could be the way forward....
Tom Hooper lowered his PB to 80:59, and Rachel Gorman's wonderful 87:44 secured her 17th place in the Women's race.
Cyril Crua was another athlete setting a new PB, running 89:22 to dip under 90 mins for the first time after a humid debut over the 13.1 mile distance in Chicago earlier in the summer (and shaving nearly 5 mins off his previous best in the process).
Our resident mile-machine Amelia Culshaw shrugged off illness to post a typically strong 98:10 (F45 7th) and continue her incredibly consistent season that shows no sign of slowing down.
The Phoenix contingent was completed by Bobby Searle (98:45), back from injury, and pacing Georgia Flowers (1hr 46 - just 2 mins outside her Worthing PB) for 8 miles before stretching her legs for the final 5 miles around the twisting streets of her home City.
In summary it was an excellent weekend, and a huge congratulations to all the runners and again to Bitton for their hospitality and generosity. We look forward to the return leg, with the balance of drinking Vs actual running still being thrashed out by club reps.
thanks Tom Hooper for this report