Martin Rees' world record run 'encapsulates' Bath Half, says race director Andrew Taylor
Race director Andrew Taylor has paid tribute to Martin Rees after the Welshman produced the first world-best performance in the history of the Bath Half.
The 60-year-old former steel worker from Port Talbot produced an astonishing run to complete the 13.1 miles in a time of 1 hr 11mins 32secs.
That slashed almost three minutes off the previous record for veterans aged 60 and over.
“Martin is a rare jewel, such a gentleman, and the record couldn’t have gone to a nicer bloke,” said Taylor.
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“His performance encapsulates what the Bath Half is all about. At the top end it is about the elite performances and there is no doubt that Martin’s run falls into that category.
“But it is also about people, like Martin, coming to running late in life, getting into the sport and really enjoying it.
“It was a fantastic performance.”
Rees has long been a big supporter of the Bath Half but hadn’t run it since 2007, during which time he had taken two years off due to knee and Achilles tendon injuries.
Having resumed running last year, he specifically targeted the race as it came just three days after he celebrated his 60th birthday.
“I have had a really good winter and been getting in a lot of miles, so I was hoping to run around 72mins 30secs,” said the modest Rees.
“Instead I was a minute quicker and ran my fastest time for eight years. I was really pleased with that.”
Taylor and his team have been busy ensuring all the proper paperwork is delivered to the relevant authorities before they official sanction the performance but that is just a formality.
“Martin is an action-man hero and we are all delighted for him,” added Taylor.
Rees didn’t finish far behind top British woman Susan Partridge, with the international smashing her personal best by 39 seconds with a time of 1.10:31 – good enough to lift her to the top of the 2013 UK rankings.
“I really didn’t think I was that fit and I keep surprising myself at the half marathon, it just seems to be my distance,” said Partridge, who was also second in Bath last year.
Long-time race leader Polline Wanjiru of Kenya resisted Partridge’s late charge to clock the fastest winning time since Liz Yelling’s course record of 1.19:27 in 2007. Coincidentally Yelling was on hand to present the prizes.
Another happy Brit was third-placed Alyson Dixon, who was rewarded for her trip from Sunderland with a personal best of 1.11:21 – carving 70 seconds off the time she set on the same roads two years ago.
“I knew I was in decent shape but didn’t think I would run that fast,” she said. “I have changed my training this year, doing more strength and endurance, and have not done much fast work yet.”
Ethiopian Tewodros Shiferaw, based in London, regained the men’s title he last won six years ago in a then course record of 1.02:09.
It was the tenth successive year that an African has won the men’s race as he outsprinted Kenyan Matthew Kiprotich Kimutai.
The leading Brit in fourth overall was Phil Wicks, who was using the race as part of his build-up for London and was getting plenty of support from wife Emily as she trained around the course.