SUE Harrison mixed it with the best long distance runners across the road at the annual World 100km Road Running Championships and came away from Holland with a superb tenth-place finish.
Harrison was one of three men and women who were selected to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at this year’s championships, which were held in the town of Winschoten on Saturday.
The race also incorporated the European Championships and the World Masters Championships, and saw locals decorate the streets to cheer on participants.
Harrison was running in her third 100km championship and was up against 240 of the world’s best ultra-distance runners from a total of 37 countries.
From the outset the pace was fast and furious as some tried to gain an early advantage, but Harrison had a pre-race schedule planned and chose to stick with it as closely as possible, with the aim of beating her previous best time of 7:48.12.
After the first 10km lap she found herself just inside the top 20 in the women’s championship race clocking 45.26 and a second lap in an identical time saw her move up into 15th place.
Harrison finished her marathon time in 3:11.02 which placed her 12th and by the half-way point she was up to ninth and first in the Masters W40 age group race.
She managed to maintain her pace and move up to eighth by the 80km stage, by which time fellow Brit Jo Zakrzewski was in third but was starting to feel the efforts of her fast early pace.
Harrison went through the 84km mark having covered her second marathon in 3.15.09 before 1km later she was passed by Australian Kirstin Bull who eventually crossed the finish line some four minutes in front of Harrison setting a new Australian record in the process.
Continuing to give 100 per cent right to the finish, Harrison stopped the clock at 7:39.50 to finish a magnificent tenth in what the organisers declared was probably the highest standard 100km World Championship race held in recent years.
Additionally she was placed seventh in the European Championship and she took silver in the World Masters W40 category after beating her previous time by more than eight minutes.
“I am so delighted to break the 7h 40min barrier,” said Harrison. “That was my target and it improved my British Masters record by over 8 minutes.
“The 100km is not something you can undertake on your own and I was delighted that my coach, Les Barnett, could be part of the team to help me in Holland, as he has done all through my training.
“I have logged over 2000 miles in training this year and the help of Mizuno in providing me with shoes as I have worn out six pairs already this year has been so important.
“The X-Bionic compression socks have become a ‘must’ for all my long runs and races. The sponsored gym membership at the Warwickshire Golf and Country Club has helped me maintain my all round fitness. They all have my gratitude for their support.”
Zakrzewski had battled on gamely to finish fifth and win the European bronze medal and World Masters silver in the W35 age group. Her time of 7:31.33 was also a massive lifetime best placing her fourth, just in front of Harrison, in the UK ‘all-time’ Rankings.
USA’s Herron ran an outstanding 7.08.35 to win the Women’s Championship in what was the 4th best time ever run by a female athlete. Jonas Buud from Sweden won the mens race in 6.22.44.