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Twell relishing the battle of Britain at The Vitality Big Half

Double Olympian Steph Twell goes into The Vitality Big Half unbeaten this calendar year, but knows she will have to be at her very best if she is to continue that winning streak.

Twell is one of a stellar list of British female distance runners who will be on the Start Line of The Vitality Big Half on Sunday, along with last year’s champion Charlotte Purdue and Welsh half-marathon record holder Charlotte Arter.

Other athletes toeing the line will be Lily Partridge, the first British woman at last year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, Gemma Steel, Tracy Barlow and Sonia Samuels.

29-year-old Twell has proved unbeatable this winter over a variety of distances and surfaces, from 3km on the road in Armagh to the mud and hills of the Scottish Cross-Country Championships.

But the European and Commonwealth medallist on the track suspects she will have to run faster than she has ever done over the half-marathon distance if she is to continue her winning run.

Both Purdue and Arter have run exceptionally fast half-marathon times this year, with both breaking into the top 10 of the fastest Brits of all time over the distance.

Purdue ran 69:46 in Japan in January and then Arter ran a Welsh national record in Barcelona last month when she clocked 69:40.

Twell, whose own PB of 71:56 was set nine years ago, said: “I’m really excited. Preparation has gone well. I know there’s a real healthy competition ready to compete against and I just want to get onto the roads of London and take in the atmosphere.

“I’ve varied my distance leading up to this race, mainly to test my different tools so I’ve dropped down to three kilometres but also have been working hard on the hills and the mud over the Scottish cross-country and I really feel like that benefits me to be prepared for whatever is thrown at me.

“I think the race will be a really tough race. Charlotte Purdue ran a fantastic time of 69:46 out in Japan and Charlotte Arter has run 69:40 which are spectacular times for British females over this distance. My PB is a little bit off that and I’m hoping to be holding on to the coat-tails on them if I can.”

Twell is in the process of making the transition from track running to marathon racing. She made her marathon debut in Valencia last December, running 2:30:14 and that endurance combined with the speed that has seen her win track medals at major championships over 1500m and 5000m, means she is confident of being at the sharp end of Sunday’s race.

She said: “I always go into a race to win so if I can be competitive and find a way to win, I’ll definitely be running home to the Cutty Sark finish line as quickly as possible.”

The Vitality Big Half will be shown live on the BBC Red Button between 08:45 and 12:20 on Sunday.