Teweldeberhan Mengisteab of Shettleston Harriers, defeated a field of 1820 runners to win yesterday’s Inverness half marathon after a thrilling battle with Corstorphine AAC’s Michael Crawley over the final mile.
There had been little to choose between the two rivals throughout the contest although Crawley held a narrow lead going into the final mile. Mengisteab, an Eritrean-born athlete who has been living in Glasgow for the past six years, then powered ahead and went on to win the top prize in 1hr 6min 48secs with Crawley just seven secs behind.
The result made up for the disappointment Mengisteab felt on his previous visit to the race, in 2012, when he finished second behind Ethiopian runner Yared Hagos. He said: “I am very pleased to win after being runner-up three years ago. The conditions were very hard today because I felt it to be cold and windy. I am pleased with the time. It was a good race with Michael. He ran very strongly so I had to be at my best to win.”
Crawley was disappointed not to win but felt satisfied with his performance. He said: “I was just in front with just over half a mile to go but Teweleberhan produced a tremendous turn of pace and I just couldn’t respond to it at all. I’m happy enough as it’s all part of my preparations for the Manchester marathon in April.”
John Newsom, who was runner-up last year, had to settle for third position in 1:10:51. The Nairn-based athlete wasn’t too pleased with his performance although he did have the consolation of collecting the Graeme Moffat Memorial Quaich which is awarded to the first member of Inverness Harriers to complete the race. Newsom said: “I’m not happy at all. It was a good opportunity to run a decent time and it just never happened for me. It must be the slowest time I’ve run in this race, so it’s not good.”
Despite his feelings Newsom also led Inverness Harriers to the men’s team prize with backing from Graham Bee (fifth in 1:12:16) and over-40 age group winner Paul Millar (12th in 1:14:59).
Willie Coyle (36th in 1:20:01) won the over-50 men’s prize and Bert van Tujil (Lynx Pack) was first over-60 in 1:28:42.
Shona McIntosh (Hunters Bog Trotters) emerged triumphant at the end of an exciting women’s race in which she recorded 1:16:45 to defeat Scottish marathon champion Jenn Wetton (Central AC) by 20secs to win for the second time in seven years. She said: “It was a good race. I got away from Jenn after about four miles but I never had much of a lead. She kept chasing me and I think that’s what spurred me on to a decent time. I was only a few secs outside my best but I wouldn’t even have been close to that if Jenn hadn’t been there.
“This is the fourth time I’ve won the race. I won it when I was a student back in 2008 so it’s good to do it again. I enjoyed it.”
Wetton, who was third last year, admits she just couldn’t hang on to McIntosh. She said: “I was ahead for the first couple of miles but after that Shona moved ahead and opened a small lead. Try as I might, I just couldn’t close it. There were a few occasions when I thought I was closing a little bit, but then she just pulled away again. It’s annoying I couldn’t get a personal best but on a day like this I’m happy with the performance.”
Megan Crawford (Fife AC), who won the Loch Ness marathon in 2013, finished third 1:19:53 while fourth-placed Sarah Liebnitz recorded 1:22:54 to lead Inverness Harriers to the women’s team prize with backing from Helen Gertig (seventh in 1:25:21) and Emily Tomlin (10th in 1:27:39).
Aberdeen’s Marie Baxter (Garioch Road Runners) won the over-40’s prize in 1:27:03 while Rhona Anderson (Dunbar Running Club) was first over-50 in 1:27:59
Stephen Mackay (Inverness Harriers) finished ahead of a field of 750 to win the accompanying 5Km fun run in 15min 49secs. The 800metres specialist was satisfied with the result as he finished well clear of his nearest challengers. He said: “The conditions were fine, a little windy, but nothing too serious. I’m happy with that performance and the time.”
Nairn’s Mary Macintosh led home the women’s field in a personal best time of 19:11 and she was also happy with her performance. She said:”It’s my best time so I’m pleased especially as I had a hard run yesterday at the Scottish schools cross country championships at Irvine where I finished second
Inverness Half Marathon
Men: 1 T. Mengiisteab (Shettleston) 1:06:48; 2 M. Crawley (Corstorphine) 1:06:55; 3 J. Newsom (Inverness) 1:10:51; 4 K. Bryon (Shettleston) 1:11:37; 5 G. Bee (Inverness) 1:12:16; 6 G. Lennox (Forrres) 1:12:30.
Over:40: P. Millar (Inverness) 1:14:59
Over-50: W. Coyle (Shettleston) 1:20:01
Over-60: H. Van Tuijl (Lynx Pack) 1:28:42
Teams: 1 Inverness Harriers; 2 Shettleston Harriers; 3 Corstorphine AAC
Women: 1. S. McIntosh (Hunters Bog Trotters) 1:16:45; 2 J. Wetton (Central) 1:17:05; 3 M. Crawford (Fife) 1;19:53; 4 S. Liebnitz (Inverness) 1:22:54; 5 H. Bonsor (Carnethy) 1:23:57; 6 J. Carrasco (Dundee Hawkhill) 1:24:23.
Over-40: M. Baxter (Garioch) 1:27:03
Over-50: R. Anderson (Dunbar) 1:27:59
Teams: 1 Inverness Harriers; 2 Fife AC