FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nicholls & Harris Take Edinburgh Marathon Titles
With A Little Help From Their Friends
After battling their way to debut wins in today's Edinburgh Marathon both
the men's and women's champions expressed gratitude for the on course
support that helped them to victory.
Phil Nicholls overcame a severe bout of cramp that briefly forced him to
stop running a mile from home, while Sarah Harris also admitted to finding
the going tough as they both emerged triumphant in their first competitive
outings over this distance.
Twenty-seven-year-old Nicholls won in a time of 2 hrs 19 mins 22 secs,
exactly a minute ahead of Scottish and British internationalist Martin
Williams, a former Edinburgh champion with whom he trains at the Tipton
Harriers club in the English Midlands.
Williams had gone into the race as favourite but had identified his
training partner as a real threat and he had no answer when Nicholls, who
has had considerable success at shorter distances, pulled clear just after
halfway. However Nicholls' title bid faltered as a combination of the
elements and his inexperience took their toll.
"Martin's a great friend of mine and we worked together for the first half
of the race, but I thought I could beat him. I'm stronger over shorter
distances than he is, but I also knew that a Marathon would be a different
story. I got away from him at 13 miles and was running on my own from that
point," said Nicholls.
"I was feeling really strong until about 18 or 19 miles, but turning back
into the elements was really horrendous and that knocked the wind out of my
sails. It was really exposed running into the wind the whole way back and I
started suffering from cramp in the latter stages. It started in my left
ham-string then went into my right calf so I had to stop and walk at the
The true spirit of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival was then demonstrated by
a fellow competitor, however.
"A lady runner who was going the other way handed me an energy gel which I
took and I managed to pick up my race again after that. Whoever she is
please give her my thanks because I don't think I could have got going
again without that help," Nicholls explained.
As well as claiming the runners-up spot Williams could draw some
consolation from correctly identifying an emerging talent and Nicholls has
reason to believe there is much better to come.
"I'm pleased with my time, although I thought I was on for 2:16, but I was
well outside six minute miles in the closing stages because of the cramp,"
he pointed out.
Ross Houston of Central Athletics, two time winner of Kilomathon Scotland,
maintained his recent good form to be the first home-based Scot to finish,
claiming third place in a highly respectable time of 2:23:17.
"I was pleased with third place. It was really tough today, especially that
last eight miles directly into the wind," he said after taking his spot on
The women's event was won in 2:43:01 by Sarah Harris, a 35-year-old from
Nottingham who runs out of the Long Eaton club as she, too, stepped up to
full Marathon distance in style and she said the backing from spectators
had played a significant part in keeping her going.
"I was conservative at the start because of the wind and it really was
tough out there," she said.
"There was amazing support out on the course. Everyone says this about
Edinburgh and that is why I chose this Marathon instead of London. I'm so
Nicola Duncan, an actuary who is originally from Galway but now lives in
Edinburgh improved on last year's third placed finish to take the runner-up
spot in a time of 2:49:56.
Third place was taken by Angela Hibbs, a lecturer at Northumbria University
in sports bio-mechanics, who finished runner-up in 2007.
The men's Half Marathon was won by Andrew Douglas from Inverclyde AC whose
age advantage over his 64-year-old dad John was worth more than a minute
"It was a good start to the season and we had a great family day," said the
The women's Half Marathon was won by Becky Penty, a 27-year-old from
Highgate Harriers who set a new course record of 1:15:31.
The Hairy Haggis team relay Tricky Too in a time of 2:33:44, while Whec's
Whippets finished second in 2:50:05.
With the Edinburgh Marathon Festival taking place over two days for the
first time Bryan Mackie, a 32-year-old from Edinburgh Athletics Club,
claimed Saturday's 10K title in 34:09, Christy MacLeod, a 24-year-old from
Stornoway, winning the women's race in 39:12.
Also on Saturday Craig Neil, a 26-year-old from Central Athletics won the
inaugural 5km race in 18:04 secs, while Riko Trees, a 33-year-old from
Reading, won the women's event in 23:20
Saturday's 3K junior race was won by Cameron Gilmour, a 14-year-old from
Edinburgh in 10:17 while 12-year-old Robyn Connolly from Glasgow's Victoria
Park club won the girls race in 11:49. The 1.5 K junior race was won by
Andrew Hogg, 10-year-old from Berwick-on-Tweed, whose twin sister Cara
finished runner-up in the girls event to Sarah Tait, a 10-year-old from
Race director Neil Kilgour declared the decision to extend the festival
into a two-day event a huge success.
"We provided races for runners of every ability, many of whom were running
for charity, resulting in a bumper entry and a wonderful atmosphere. Our
thanks go to all our sponsors and volunteers as well as those who came out
to support the events and made it a special weekend for all of our
runners," he said.
Further information about the Edinburgh Marathon Festival is available from
the website http://www.edinburgh-marathon.com