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Sunday, October 14, 2018 - 16:45

A returning local hero was triumphant at the Eden Project Marathon today (Sunday).

Stuart Nicholas, 29, originally from St Austell but now living in Bournemouth, won the ninth annual Eden Marathon with a time of two hours, 53 minutes and 25 seconds. Stuart was running in the distinctive purple vest of St Austell Running Club.

After crossing the line, Stuart said: “It feels wonderful to win, I’m ecstatic. I knew I was in good shape coming into it, but to come here and get the big local win is brilliant. I wasn’t expecting to get under three hours - I’m very pleased with that. I’ve never run that quickly on the Eden course.”

Second place went to Marc Smerdon, 27, from Liskeard who runs with East Cornwall Harriers, with a time of two hours, 55 minutes and 59 seconds. Marc previously won the Eden Marathon in 2015.

Third place was taken by Jamie Stephenson, 31, from Chacewater near Truro who runs with Mile High AC. Jamie finished with a time of two hours, 57 minutes and 20 seconds.

First woman to cross the line in the marathon was Charlie Ramsdale, 37, from Dartmouth, Devon in a time of three hours, 35 minutes and 52 seconds.

The challenging course held no fears for ultramarathon competitor Charlie, who runs with the Cornwall-based Mud Crew Trail Runners.

She said: “I’ve not run all summer – I have a toddler and an outside catering company. The conditions were fine underfoot. It was really enjoyable. I loved it, especially the beautiful bits through the woods – much better views than on a flat road.”

Second woman over the line in the Marathon was Suzanne Davis, 41, from Cheddar in Somerset who runs with Cheddar Valley Joggers. Susanne’s time was three hours, 57 minutes and 43 seconds. Unaffiliated Jenny Rawle, 42, from Par was third-placed woman with a time of three hours, 58 minutes and three seconds.

Extremes of weather greeted around 1,500 runners, some of whom travelled from as far afield as USA, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium.

Heavy rain overnight made for a soggy start but by the time most of the runners were back at Eden the crowds of family, friends and supporters at the finishing line in front of the Biomes were bathed in warm autumn sunshine.

A marshalling error early on in the event meant that some half-marathon runners took a wrong turn. Organisers apologised to anyone caught up in the confusion.

Race Director Doug Alsop said: “We’d like to thank all the runners for the great spirit shown today. The leading runners in the Half Marathon were misdirected early on the course which meant a small number ran varying distances. We’re very sorry this happened. We’ve looked at distances and times to calculate the speed per mile to enable us to declare winners among the men and women. The Marathon was unaffected.”

The Half-Marathon was won by Aaron Benney, 37, from Falmouth who was competing for Mile High AC.

He finished ahead of David Tregonning, 25, from Threemilestone near Truro and Simon Williams, 45, from St Austell. Both runners compete for St Austell Running Club.

First woman was Emma Baker, 27, from Launceston who runs with Launceston Road Runners.

Nina Wagstaff, 41, from Chard in Somerset who runs with Chard Road Runners Club was second and St Austell Running Club’s Carly Kendall, 30, from Polgooth near St Austell was third.

Tracey Smith, Eden’s commercial manager, said: “It’s been another fantastic day of racing at the Eden Project Marathon and Half-Marathon and I’d like to congratulate everyone who has taken part today.

“Our course is uniquely beautiful but it’s also incredibly tough and all our competitors, regardless of their time or position, should feel proud of their achievements today. You’ve all earned your beer and pasty!”

Eden stages the races in partnership with St Austell Running Club.

The Eden races are now free of single-use plastic, part of Eden’s steps to drastically reduce single-use plastic across all its operations.

Runners were encouraged to bring re-usable bottles and recyclable paper cups will be given out at water stations along the route. Organisers estimate that this will prevent the use of 15,000 plastic cups and 2,500 plastic bottles each year.

The races will return on October 13, 2019 and booking details will be announced soon.