Helen Davies retains her Brighton Marathon title with fine run

Helen Davies, on her way to victory at the Brighton Marathon on Sunday. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSON

Helen Davies, on her way to victory at the Brighton Marathon on Sunday. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSON - Credit: Archant

Helen Davies achieved her two main goals following another impressive outing at the Brighton Marathon last weekend.

Ipswich JAFFA's Helen Davies, away and clear en route to successfully defending her Brighton Maratho

Ipswich JAFFA's Helen Davies, away and clear en route to successfully defending her Brighton Marathon title last weekend. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSON - Credit: Archant

Davies successfully retained her women’s title over the 26.2-mile course on the south coast, in addition to posting a sub-2:40 time.

The 38-year-old member of Ipswich JAFFA powered to victory in a scorching 2hrs 38mins 37secs, finishing more than 10 minutes clear of runner-up Sarah Webster (Isle of Man, 2:49:02) and JAFFA team-mate Sara Bird, who was third in 2:52:21.

Davies had taken time out to start a family – she has two sons, Kingsley and Hector – before marking her return to the marathon scene with a victory at last year’s Brighton Marathon, where she clocked 2:42:37.

Twelve months on and she sliced four minutes off her comeback time.

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“I achieved everything that I had hoped, with regards running inside 2:40 and also retaining my title,” enthused Davies, on her return from East Sussex at the start of this week.

“I knew that I was in better shape than I was last year. I felt a lot stronger.

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“Last year was my first marathon after a long break, so all the training and the recovery was a learning curve for me again.

“But I have been working on my strength and conditioning since last summer, with (personal trainer) Luke Read, at Airborne Fit (based at a gym in Brightwell).

“That has made a massive difference. I have recovered from my training runs much quicker.”

Davies ran a very consistent pace at Brighton, going through the first 5K in 18mins 14secs, 10K in 36:55 and reaching half-way in 1:18:17.

“I was aiming to hold six-minute mile pace for as long as I could, although we had to contend with the inevitable breeze during the last four miles,” explained Davies, with reference to the long run-in along the promenade.

“The breeze tends to come off the sea, and I knew this would give me a bit of bother later in the race, so I decided to bank some time in hand earlier on.

“Sure enough, I hit the breeze about the 21 and 22-mile marks, which took the wind out of my sails a little bit.

“My pace slowed from 6:00 to 6:10 straight away, but I made sure that I didn’t force it. I knew that I was on course to go under 2:40, and the pace felt good, so there was no need to panic.

“My coach (Clive Sparkes) said that I looked so smooth that he even questioned whether I was running that pace! But I felt very comfortable.

“I guess everything just dropped into place on the day.

“The conditions were fine, with some mist early on. Last year was a little too hot, but this time there was a little coolness in the air. There was also less wind.

“The last four miles are in a dead-straight line, and you can the pier, where the finish is situated, for all of that time.

“However, the crowds at that stage are fantastic. There is a bit of a dead zone, earlier in the race in the section up to the power station (like the quiet miles around the Isle of Dogs in the London Marathon), but the noise really builds up again during the closing miles,” added Davies.

Last weekend’s performance was so good that Davies was only just over four minutes slower than her personal best, achieved when she was at the height of her powers between around 2010 and 2012.

Davies (nee Decker) ran for Great Britain at the European Championships in Barcelona, in July of 2010, finishing 19th in 2:43:00, and just three months later was donning another international vest when proudly running for England at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

She completed a notable marathon double with a time of 2:49:24 in testing conditions in Delhi, finishing eighth in the race.

Two years later, Ipswich-based Davies set a cracking personal best of 2:34:11 at the 2012 London Marathon, only narrowly missing out on selection for the London Olympics of that year.

For good measure, she also recorded a half-marathon PB of 1:12:35 at the Bath Half-Marathon in the build-up to that London bonanza of 2012.

But what of the future?

Davies revealed: “I don’t think I’ll run another marathon this year.

“I think I will leave it until the following year, and instead try and get some of my other times down to near where they were before my break, like the 10K and half-marathon.

“You have to work so hard in the training cycle for a marathon, and I don’t think I can stomach that just yet, especially with a young family,” added Davies.

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