Having just joined a Bude RATS beginners' group I was naturally interested in how the more experienced RATS had got on at the Barnstaple marathon. I was initially a little surprised to see that the first and second placed runners were from Kenya. I probably shouldn't have been as I'm reading 'Running With The Kenyans' by Adharanand Finn at the moment. He writes about the 6 months he spent living in Iten and training with various Kenyans in the many training camps around the town. Getting up at 5am or earlier to go on training runs with them, eating ungali (a type of maize dough) and stewed kale, frequently running with the women because he couldn't keep up with the men. How, for many of those he met, winning a foreign marathon is a way out of poverty. So yes, I expected to see Kenyans in the elite group at London, or Boston, or New York; I just hadn't expected it at Barnstaple.

I decided to find out more. Race director Simon Haywood attended a training camp in Kenya for 2 weeks in March. This put the idea in his mind of inviting 2 Kenyans over to race in the Barnstaple marathon. Whilst here they would speak in local schools and do some coaching with the North Devon Road Runners. There was also a carrot involved. If they ran a sub 2 hour 12 minute marathon they would get a 1 year professional contract with RunFast.

Unfortunately neither Timon Cheruiyot, who came 1st in 2 hours 38 minutes and 41 seconds, or Benjamin Baronjo, who was 2nd in 2 hours 40 minutes and 28 seconds managed their target time. Despite being a flat course, they were slowed by headwinds in the closing stages. This I can well believe having cycled the Tarka Trail a number of times between Torrington and Barnstaple. I would fly into Barnstaple, amazed at my average speed, only to watch it drop like a stone once I turned round for the return journey. I've been told that the wind is even stronger between Barnstaple and Chivenor (which may explain why I haven't cycled that section).

But what of the RATS. Well of the 9 runners in the full marathon, 3 managed sub 4 hour times. A further 5 ran in the half marathon. The full results are:

Mark Hutcheson 3:07:31

Stephen Martin 3:29:38

Chris Tucker 3:48:58

Kelvin Moyse 4:08:36

Claire Neal 4:26:06

Sarah Tonkin 4:28:56

Karen Snelson 4:53:55

Nathan Lyon 5:00:13

Shelley Marshall 5:21:40

In the half marathon:

Isobel Waterhouse 1:51:22

Robert Waterhouse 2:01:58

Elly Harwood 2:07:57

Alex Hutcheson 2:09:48

Sarah Cann 2:26:38

Well done to all who ran on Sunday, especially to the Bude RATS