Sunday, October 15, 2017 - 16:30

It was a day for returning champions at the Eden Project Marathon and Half-Marathon as the men’s and women’s titles in both races were taken by previous winners.

The Half-Marathon saw two runners land their third Eden titles, with Peter Le Grice, 30, from Penzance and Lesley Locks, 40, from Fleet in Hampshire fastest man and woman respectively.

With her time of one hour, 26 minutes and 54 seconds, Lesley broke the course record she set with her victory last year by nearly a minute, while Peter posted a time of one hour, 13 minutes and 16 seconds, just  20 seconds off his 2013 course record time.

Peter said: “I feel absolutely brilliant, I couldn’t be happier to win for a third time. I know the course and I knew it would be tough in the first half and it didn’t disappoint in that regard. The course is great and it’s lovely seeing those Biomes – such a welcome sight coming down that hill at the end. Great course and great day.”

Peter, who runs with Mounts Bay Harriers, now plans to run the New York City Marathon on November 5.

Lesley, who runs with Hart Road Runners, said: “It feels good to win for third successive time. The course was good, better than last year – not so muddy! It’s a great event and Eden is a nice day out for the children too.”

Marc Smerdon, 26, from Liskeard who runs with East Cornwall Harriers came second in the Half-Marathon with a time of one hour and 21 minutes. Marc won the full Eden Marathon in 2015, having finished second in 2013. Today’s race was only his second half-marathon of the year.

Shortly behind Marc in third place was St Austell Running Club’s Nick Loewendahl, 35, from Lostwithiel with a time of one hour, 22 minutes and eight seconds.

Placed second among women in the Half Marathon was Niki Smith, 29, from Polgooth, a member of St Austell Running Club with a time of one hour, 38 minutes and 57 seconds. It was Niki’s first time in the event, having been a marshal on the course in previous years.

Third woman in the Half-Marathon was 17-year-old Bethany Hembury, the youngest ever person to get a top three finish in an Eden race. Bethany, from Plymouth and competing for Storm Plymouth, finished with a time of one hour, 40 minutes and six seconds.

The Eden Marathon was won for the second year running by Adam Holland from Dunsford in Devon. Today’s event made it an astonishing 333 marathons run by the 30-year-old super competitor, who became the youngest person in Europe to complete 100 marathons when he ran the Eden course in 2010.

The fastest woman in the Marathon was the most decorated athlete in Eden history, Isobel Wykes. Teacher Isobel, 39, from Probus, bagged her fourth win after missing the 2016 race. Isobel competes with Mud Crew Trail Runners and won with a time of three hours, 31 minutes and 42 seconds.

Mud-splattered Adam, who runs with Tavistock Athletics Club, said after crossing the finishing line in a time of three hours and 52 seconds: “It was wet in places, a really good course, I love it but it’s a bit too hilly for me. Today is my 333rd marathon and this is one of the tough ones.  It’s great that it is local to me and I get to meet lots of people I know. There’s a great atmosphere.”

Isobel said: “It’s a lovely race, I love the course and the organisation. It was muddier than I remember from previous races but I was running with a little gang of people, which was really nice. Hopefully I’ll be back next year, I was a bit sad to miss out last year. You’ve got to come back, haven’t you? It’s Eden!”

Second place in the Marathon was taken by Oliver Jones, 43 from Liskeard. Oliver, who competes for East Cornwall Harriers, finished with a  time of three hours, 13 minutes and 41 seconds.

He was closely followed by his East Cornwall Harriers teammate Chris Gilbert, 44 from Pensilva, who finished third with a time of three hours, 14 minutes and 13 seconds.

Second woman in the Marathon was Laura Swanton, 37, from Exeter, who came in a few minutes behind her partner Jean-Baptiste Rouvelin with a time of three hours, 34 minutes and 19 seconds.

Third placed woman in the Marathon was Rebecca Mabelle, 37, from Plymouth, the only unaffiliated runner to get a top three finish in this year’s Eden races. Rebecca finished with a time of three hours and 59 minutes.

Today was the eighth running of the Eden Project Marathon and Half-Marathon and nearly 1,500 people entered across both races, with runners travelling from as far afield as Ecuador, Hungary, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Conditions were overcast and dry but many runners reported the course to be muddier than previous years.

Marathon competitor Melisande Rowe from the British Virgin Islands completed the race, having arrived just in time after surviving the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma.

The category five storm early last month (September) was the worst ever experienced on her home of 21 years, the British Virgin Islands, and caused widespread destruction across the island chain.

The Eden Project Marathon and Half-Marathon are organised in collaboration with St Austell Running Club.

Eden Project Chief Executive Gordon Seabright, who completed his first Eden Half-Marathon today, said: “It was fantastic to see an event from a competitor’s point of view and experience the great camaraderie out there on what is a very challenging course. I loved it.

“Congratulations to all the runners and thanks to the amazing number of people who came out to cheer the runners on. It really helped that there were so many people to cheer us on and so many at the finish.  Thanks, also, to our partners St Austell Club, for all the work they put in to make the Eden Marathon a great success.

Tracey Smith, Eden’s Commercial Manager and organiser of the Eden Marathon and Half-Marathon, said: “This was another successful year for the Marathon and Half-Marathon and it’s great to see runners coming from all over the world to compete here.

“It’s also great to see victories for four runners who have supported us so well over the years – well done, Peter, Lesley, Adam and Isobel and everyone else who ran today.”

The 2018 Eden Marathon and Half-Marathon will take place on October 14 and places will be available to book from November 1, 2017 from