Sunday, October 11, 2009 - 11:06

The first ever Eden Project marathon, organised in conjunction with St. Austell Running Club, took place today (Sunday) with south west runners taking both male and female honours in the main race.

More than 1,000 competitors took part on a challenging course in drizzly conditions which started at the project in the former Bodelva china clay pit before moving on to the roads and paths of the neighbouring clay country.

Tim Smit, Eden chief executive, fired the starter pistol for the marathon and half-marathon events while Jemma Simpson, an Olympic runner who grew up in Polgooth near St. Austell, started the one mile fun run.

The winner of the marathon was Pete Roper from Shaftesbury, Dorset who runs with Poole Athletics Club. Pete’s time was 2 hours 46 minutes 11 seconds.

Pete, a seasoned runner with a number of race wins under his belt, said: “It was a demanding race and the scenery was great. It’s an honour to be the first ever winner of the Eden Marathon.”

The first woman across the line was Ann Singer from Portishead Running Club with a time of 3 hours 38 minutes 32 seconds.

Ann, who was running her first marathon, said: “The route was very hilly but really good. I felt strong all the way round but I was very surprised at the result. My aim was just to make it round the course.”

The half marathon was won by Chris Thompson from London who runs for the Aldershot, Farnham and District Athletic Club with a time of 1 hour 18 minutes 41 seconds. Chris is the partner of Jemma Simpson.

Chris, who was running his first ever half marathon, said: “I found it really satisfying. It was a good honest, tough run. To finish here at Eden was awesome.”

The fastest woman in the half marathon was Kathryn Philpotts of Swaledale Road Runners with a time of 1 hour 37 minutes 12 seconds.

Ian Williams, Eden’s operations director who helped organise the race and also ran the marathon with a time of 4 hours 13 minutes 22 seconds, said: “It’s been a fantastic day we’re very proud of everyone who has organised and taken part in the races. The course was brilliantly challenging and Eden provided a great backdrop for the finish line. We can’t wait to do it all again next year.”

Doug Alsop, chairman of St. Austell Running Club, said: “The race was spectacular, to see that many people lined up at the start was a dream come true. It was great to see the local community come together to help organise and support the race.”