Ipswich athlete Davies sets PB on her way to hat-trick of Brighton Marathon titles
PUBLISHED: 19:21 14 April 2019 | UPDATED: 21:07 14 April 2019
Helen Davies won her third consecutive Brighton Marathon title, in a personal best time yesterday. The Ipswich athlete spoke to Carl Marston following her latest triumph
Suffolk athlete Helen Davies achieved her double aim of retaining her Brighton Marathon title, while also setting a personal best time, despite some very testing conditions on the East Sussex coast yesterday morning.
The impressive Davies, an international elite marathon runner, celebrated a hat-trick of Brighton Marathon ladies’ title wins by battling against a strong, cold wind to register a triumphant time of 2hrs 34mins 06secs for the traditional 26.2-mile distance.
This clipped five seconds off her previous best, set seven years ago at the 2012 London Marathon (2:34:11).
It was another superb performance from 39-year-old Davies, who turns 40 this September and yet shows no signs of slowing down.
The Ipswich JAFFA stalwart is now hoping to be selected to run for England again, either at Toronto, Canada, or in Frankfurt, Germany, this autumn.
“The conditions that I had to contend with were very tough,” explained Davies, following her third successive victorious run at Brighton.
“The wind was very unkind, even though it wasn’t quite as bad as had been forecast earlier in the week.
“The wind picked up and so I was faced with a strong wind in my face for the final straight four miles to the finish (along the promenade).
“I was aiming to run at 2:33 pace, and I managed to do just that until the last four miles. I was bang on schedule until I hit the wind at 22 miles.
“I lost a minute during those closing four miles, and I’m just pleased that the damage was not more than that.
“I was gunning for a PB, and I could see the clock at the finish from a long way out. The seconds seemed to go away so quickly and I was getting very tired, having battled with the wind for so long.
“But I’m pleased to have bettered my time from seven years ago,” added Davies.
Following her return to competitive running, after starting a family following her landmark London Marathon run in 2012, Davies won her first Brighton Marathon title in 2017 2:42:37, before returning to retain her crown in 2:38:41 last year.
Earlier in her career, she ran the marathon in two major championships in 2010, competing at the European Championships (for Great Britain) in Barcelona and the Commonwealth Games (for England) in Delhi, India.
Incredibly, despite her long break from serious running, and the fact that she is nearing her 40th birthday, Davies is obviously in better shape than she was even during those glory years from 2010 to 2012.
“I gave it everything I had, and I’m delighted to have ticked both boxes of getting a hat-trick of wins and a PB,” continued Davies, who is coached by Clive Sparkes at JAFFA.
“I would have loved to have got under 2:34, and I think this run was worth more if I hadn’t had to contend with the wind.
“The first section into the wind was not too bad, because it was early on, but I had to run on my own for most of the race.
“The men I was with started to slow too much, so I had to take a risk and push on. There was no man running at my pace to shelter behind, and in the end the only other runners I saw were those that I passed during those last four miles – and there were many of them!
“I didn’t look at my watch during the last few miles, because I didn’t want to see the damage it was doing to my pace.
“I just had to dig in.
“It was an incredibly chilly wind as well. There was a significant breeze in 2017, but nothing like today, and last year was only a light breeze.
“I actually got sun-burnt from the sun this time, but the cold was a big contributory factor. I was perished at the end.
“Now I’m looking forward to a short break, although hopefully this run will get me an England selection again, at either Frankfurt or Toronto, where I have run three times before,” added Davies, who lives in Rushmere St Andrew with husband Gavin, a fellow runner, and sons Kinsgley and Hector.
Runner-up Jill Collett, 36, of Berkshire, finished more than 14 minutes behind Davies in 2:48:14, while Johanna O’Regan, 36, from St Neots, took third in 2:49:38.
The men’s race was won by 31-year-old Peter Le Grice, 31, from Penzance, who clocked 2:16:23 on a morning when more than 12,000 runners took part in what was the 10th staging of the event.