Sunday’s Great Eastern Run promises to be the most open race for years with at least a dozen athletes in with a chance of victory.
Once again the red-hot Kenyans are giving the Peterboroug half-marathon a miss leaving some top Brits to battle it out.
And there is also the possibility of a local winner for the first time since Neil Addison won in 2009.
Stamford-based Aaron Scott is the second fastest man in the field, with a best of 65:50 which he achieved when finishing fifth in the Bath Half-Marathon in 2016.
However, the Lincoln Wellington AC ace is using the race as preparation for the Frankfurt Marathon, which takes place later in the month, and says he is putting his training before personal glory.
“I won’t be going with anything faster than my marathon pace. It’s just a session for me,” said Scott.
“I suppose if the boys were only 10 seconds up the road then I’d be drawn into a race over the last few miles, but I’m under strict instructions to do nothing silly and not let my ego get the better of me!”
Nene Valley Harrier Edgars Sumskis and city-based Bedford and County AC man Josh Lunn could be surprise packages. Neither athlete has raced the distance before, but they have both promised to ‘give it a go’ and should be well capable of getting round in under 70 minutes.
Alastair Watson of Notts AC is the fastest man in the field having clocked 65:41 at Manchester two years ago. The 40 year-old is likely to be there or thereabouts, as is Cardiff AC’s Michael Kallenberg who ran 67:21 in the Fleet Half -Marathon last year.
Andrew Rooke of Framlingham Flyers finished as runner up in the Ipswich Half-Marathon just three weeks ago with a time of 67:31.
Matt Bowser, Lucian Allison and James Straw, teammates of Scott’s at Lincoln Wellington, have all run under 68 minutes and are sure to be keen to take the club’s bragging rights.
And of course last year’s winner Tom Evans is back again, determined to hang on to his title.
For the British Army officer from Sussex, Sunday’s race will be little more than a sprint. He’s an ultra distance specialist used to running distances way beyond 13.1 miles.
He took the bronze medal in the World Trail Running Championships this year over a mountainous 85.3k course in Spain in a time of 8:49:35 and then last month won the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc over a gruelling 101k course over the French Alps. He finished that one in 10:44:32.
When he won the Great Eastern Run 12 months ago in 68:40, he smashed his PB by over five minutes in only his second race over the distance. He’s totally unpredictable and could well do something special in his third attempt at a half-marathon.
Last year’s runner-up William Strangeway, also of Lincoln Wellington, goes again and will be keen to go one better this time.
Last year’s ladies winner Georgina Schwiening is back to defend her title and lines up as the second fastest lady in the field, with the 75.24 that she ran in the city last year. She won the Hull Marathon three weeks ago and will hope the race is not still in her legs.
Cardiff AC’s Clara Evans ran 74:13 in her home town half marathon on Sunday, and her performance on the roads of Peterborough could depend on how well she recovers.
Nene Valley’s Jordan Foster and Maggie Skinner of PAC should both run under 90 minutes and could battle it out for the local honours.
The race this year features a team challenge called the UK Armed Forces Invitation Half-Marathon put together by Vivacity and Peterborough AC runner Steve Robinson.
RAF man Robinson said: “I manage the UK Armed Forces Road Running team and have invited the RAF, Eastern Counties, North of England and Midlands to put in teams of four men and four ladies to compete against us. With no Africans involved this year, it will improve the British domestic element of the race.”
Elsewhere many local runners will feature in the race with ever present Eric Winstone making it 28 out of 28. The former headmaster hopes to go round in 1hr 40mins.
Winstone’s former Bushfield team-mate Phil Martin is aiming for 73 or 74 minutes, and could go even quicker after running a PB of 72:27 to finish fourth in Bournemouth at the weekend. Yaxley’s rapidly improving Kerry Balmer could be one to watch.
The spirit of the event was captured by Werrington Jogger Derek Smith.
“This will be my eighth half -marathon,” said Smith. “I am still mentally scarred by my first in 2002 when I was overtaken by a 12 foot Mars Bar with three miles to go.
“My first objective these days is not to be beaten by any novelty fancy-dressed charity runners before even thinking of PBs, although I was also taken out by a fridge freezer in the London Marathon!
“Anything under 1.44 which I did at Nottingham last week will be good. I’d be thrilled as my PB is 1.42.42.”
UK ARMED FORCES INVITATION RACE
UK ARMED FORCES
Tom Evans (Army) - PB 68:40
Paul Graham (Army) - PB 67:41
Adam Stokes (Navy) - PB 71:35
Adrian Whitwam (Army) - PB 68:53
Roanna Vickers Army) - PB 82:50
Vicky Shaw (Army) - PB unknown
Alice Whiley (Army) - PB 83:43
Georgia Bell (Army) - PB unknown
Sam Mitchell - PB 69:57
Mike Kallenberg - PB 66:48
Laurence Humphries - PB 74:34
Matthew Allen - PB 74:01
Emily Brown - PB 85:53
Helena Schofield - PB 84:41
Natalie Bown - PB unknown
Emily Hutchinson - PB 84:44
Matthew Bowser - PB 67:41
Aaron Scott - PB 65:50
Shane Robinson - PB 71:01
Andrew Rooke - PB 67:31
Megan Ellison - PB unknown
Sara Bird - PB 77:12
Laura Thomas - PB 82:00
Maggie Skinner - PB 85:27
Daniel Hallam - PB 70:01
Alastair Watson -PB 65:41
Anthony Woodward - PB 69:52
Fourth runner still to be confirmed
Joanne Male - PB 79:51
Charlie Nurse - PB unknown
Rosanna Andrew - PB 81:27
Rebecca Gallop - PB 81:16
James Straw - PB 67:43
Lucian Allison - PB 67:45
William Strangeway - PB 68:57
Ryan Page - PB 71:37
Carly Needham - PB 78:04
Second runner still to be confirmed
Third runner still to be confirmed
Fourth runner still to be confirmed