Rob Samuel and Siobhan Jones make it a Welsh double at the inaugural Anglesey Half Marathon on Sunday.
Over 500 runners embarked on The Island Race, with weather and racing only matched by the stunning scenery for this brand new North Wales half marathon.
(Race winner Rob Samuel pictured at the recent Nick Beer 10km)
The strong headwind on the return 5 miles of the race meant that fast times for the elite runners would have to wait for another day, however the overwhelmingly positive reaction from participants signalled that this race should become a firm favourite amongst runners in the future.
As the race was waved-off at 9 am by Anglesey Mayor Hilary Hunt and Malcolm Twist, Executive Vice President Commercial of headline sponsors EnergySolutions, it was GB and Welsh international Rob Samuel who started as a firm favourite for this race, which starts on the Menai Suspension Bridge and takes in the World Heritage site of Beaumaris Castle.
In a great demonstration of front-running Samuel was very pleased with the win, but was even more effusive about the course calling it "stunning" in his post-race interview. In the women's race local athlete Siobhan Jones was a popular winner, as the Eryri Harriers provided both victors in this 13.1 mile race.
2011 Snowdonia Marathon winner Samuel romped home in 1:11:41, a full 3 minutes clear of second placed Eryri team-mate Brendan Rothery (1.14.44) and Tipton Harrier Nick Jones (1:15:38) in third. Speaking after his win he said;
"I am very pleased with that run. After my disappointment at the London Marathon last month I feel my running is starting to come back together. Today's run was pleasing, but most of all it was a really stunning and enjoyable course. The views across to the coast were amazing, especially with the great weather".
However, he was under no illusions how significant the wind was in making today's conditions challenging for the runners.
"The wind over the last 4 miles or so was really quite strong, and for me ruled out any fast times today. Overall though I am really happy to have won and put my name on the role call of winners of this race, as I am pretty sure this will be the first of many Island Races in the years to come".
For Siobhan Jones this was a welcome break from recent house renovation and the Llanberis resident was a convincing winner in the women's event, taking the race in a time of 1:31:18, ahead of Denbigh's Emma Collins (1:32:11) and third placed Stephanie Ellis-Williams (1:36:55).
Always Aim High Events strived to put on a memorable event, with additional attractions such as a brass band, bouncy castle and a locally sourced BBQ adding to the occasion. However AAHE's Tim Lloyd was keen to stress that it was the support of the event partners which really made the event possible:
"It was great to see the local communities embrace the event, with the Menai Bridge Brass Band playing and bouncy castles for the kids on the day and the Cyngor Sir Ynys Mon / Anglesey Council Sport Development Team helping to facilitate over 100 youngsters taking part in the Dragon's Dash kids races - all part of the build up ahead of the visit of the Olympic torch to Anglesey on May the 29th.
"However, we really couldn't have put the event on this weekend without the support of EnergySolutions and Cyngor Sir Ynys Mon / Anglesey Council. They have been extremely supportive of the event and share our vision that this race will only grow from here and hopefully be a major sporting event for the area. The list of partners and support staff and organisations for The Island Race is endless, and we must also thank Waitrose, DW Fitness, Kinetica Sports Nutrition and Scott Sports for their valued contribution."
Energy Solutions' Malcolm Twist added:
“The Island Race has been a fantastic success. Energy Solutions are very proud to sponsor such an iconic race designed to capture the imagination of all the runners in this beautiful part of Wales. It was great to see the community support for the event and everyone enjoying a family day out.”