Kenenisa Bekele




New course record as Bekele wins The Big Half 2020

"The new course record is a great bonus. I wasn’t focused on time today; I just wanted to win."

Kenenisa Bekele

Bekele said: "This was my second half marathon in the UK and I’m very happy to win. It was a little bit windy.

"The new course record is a great bonus. I wasn’t focused on time today; I just wanted to win.

"I’m on schedule in my preparation for the Virgin Money London Marathon in April. If the weather is good, then I’m hoping to run like I ran in Berlin last year.

"There’s no question about the crowds in London being great. There was cheering all around the course; it felt like a great place to be thanks to the amazing people of London.”

The elite women’s race featured runners who have experienced The Vitality Big Half before, including Partridge, who finished runner-up to Charlotte Purdue at the 2018 race and was fifth in 2019.

Samantha Harrison of Notts AC emerged as the early leader, storming out in front ahead of Partridge and Stephanie Davis.

But the gap was gradually closed down by Partridge, who got on to Harrison’s shoulder heading into the latter stages.

Partridge pulled away and checked over her shoulder going into the final mile, before crossing the line in a time of 70:50. Harrison was second in 71:01 and Davis third in 71:15.

“It was nice to get the win; that was important today,” Partridge said. “My coach said to me before the start that the goal was to win. It wasn’t about the time today. It’s my fastest ever half marathon during a marathon build-up [Partridge is training for the Virgin Money London Marathon in April].

“I feel like I’m on the up from injury, and I don’t feel like I’m flying, so that’s a big confidence booster. I’m excited to get back to work for London.

“The crowds at The Vitality Big half are incredible. Everyone knows your name, and they shout for you, which you don’t always get when you race abroad. I will absolutely be back next year to defend my title.”

Brent Lakatos also secured a new course record in the elite men’s wheelchair race, seeing off competition from the experienced David Weir.

Lakatos was the clear winner in 48:44, taking more than two minutes off Weir’s record Vitality Big Half time set in 2019. Weir was the next man home in 50:07 and John Boy Smith was third in 51:15.

In the elite women’s wheelchair race, Shelly Woods won in a time of 62:02. Eden Rainbow-Cooper was second (66:56) and Mel Nicholls third (67:13).

"The race went really well today," said Lakatos. "I’m doing the Virgin Money London Marathon in a couple of months so this will help me as I build up to that.

"I did the inaugural Vitality Big Half in 2018. To beat David Weir is great. The support was great out there today – even if most people were cheering for Dave [Weir]!

"It’s the first race of 2020 for me, in a year when Tokyo is coming up, so winning here today is a really good start to the year."

Woods said: “It’s my first time at The Vitality Big Half and I found it challenging. It’s quite a tough course and was challenging in terms of the wind, the cobbles and the twists and turns but I love racing in London, so it was nice to be back.”