Sunday, October 13, 2019 - 17:00

An elite Kenyan runner smashed the Eden Project half-marathon course record with a stunning performance as the event celebrated its tenth birthday today (Sunday October 13).

Benard Rotich, 33, crossed the line in one hour, nine minutes and 24 seconds, beating the previous record - set by Peter Le Grice in 2013 - by more than three and a half minutes.

Benard, who also broke the course record at the Eden parkrun yesterday (Saturday October 12), said: “I’m very happy - my main target was to the break the course record for the half-marathon. The course is challenging but I was ready for it. I’m used to running in mud and rain in the hills at home.”

His victory came the day after his fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge set the first sub-two hour time for a marathon. Benard said: “It was very impressive - Kenyans around the world are very happy that he achieved this. We are happy that our son has done it!”

Benard, a previous winner of Dublin and Belfast marathons, was running as part of a partnership between Eden and fellow charity Five Talents UK. As well as taking part in the race, Benard and top coach Martin Yelling offered a special running weekend for a small group of lucky runners.

Benard finished 11 minutes ahead of Kyle Darragh, 20, from Barnstable who runs with North Devon Athletic Club. Kyle came second with a time of one hour, 20 minutes and 26 seconds.

Third place was Eden Marathon veteran Marc Smerdon, who claimed his fifth top- three place in the races. Marc, 28 from Liskeard, who runs with Tavistock Run Project, finished in a time of one hour, 20 minutes and 58 seconds.

The fastest woman in the half marathon was Rachael Malthouse, also of Tavistock Run Project, in one hour, 33 minutes and 21 seconds. The challenging conditions were familiar to physiotherapist Rachael as she is used to running on the Dartmoor hills.

She said: “It’s a great event – a mixture of roads and trails and loads of mud today.”

Second place woman in the half-marathon was Ami Yetton, 38, from Plymouth who competes for Plymouth Harriers. Ami finished with a time of one hour, 34 minutes and three seconds.

Third-placed woman was Lorna Ni Cheallaigh, 22, from Truro, making the podium at her first ever half-marathon. Lorna, who is unaffiliated with a club, finished with a time of one hour, 34 minutes and 32 seconds.

The marathon was won by Jamie Stephenson, 32, from Chacewater near Truro. GP in training Jamie finished with a time of two hours, 53 minutes and 50 seconds, improving on his 2018 third place finish.

Jamie, who competes for Mile High AC, finished ahead of last year’s winner Stuart Nicholas of St Austell Running Club.

Jamie said: “It feels absolutely amazing, I’m really happy. I was looking over my shoulder for Stuart the entire time because he overtook me with five kilometres to go last time.

“The course was excellent, still really hard and really waterlogged coming off Helman Tor but that was to be expected. I was happy when the rain came to cool us down a little bit.”

Stuart, 30, originally from St Austell but now living in Bournemouth, completed the course in a time of two hours, 56 minutes and 41 seconds.

In third position was Oliver Jones, 45, from Liskeard. The East Cornwall Harriers athlete crossed the line in three hours, two minutes and 53 seconds and added to his Eden Marathon medal haul following his third place in 2017 and second place in 2016.

Anne Matthews, 46, from Crawley in West Sussex, was the first female marathon runner to cross the line, winning with a time of three hours, 36 minutes and 25 seconds. Anne, who runs for Crawley Athletic Club, came to Eden as part of a trip to Cornwall to visit relatives and competed in the race for the first time.

Anne said: “It feels amazing to win. The course was tough, really hilly, hillier than I was expecting. It was wet, boggy and hilly.”

Crossing the line in second was last year’s winner Charlie Ramsdale, 38, from Dartmouth. Unaffiliated runner Charlie finished with a time of three hours, 37 minutes 40 seconds, ahead of the youngest top three finisher in any of the Eden races this year, Madelaine Trudgian.

Madelaine, 18, from Fowey finished with a time of three hours, 38 minutes and 35 seconds. She achieved the podium finish in what was her first marathon.

With rain falling as the runners started the race, the weather cleared up later in the day and most finished their run under bright sunshine.

More than 1,500 runners registered for the 2019 Eden Project Marathon and Half Marathon, the tenth time the races have been run. These included runners from Malta, the Netherlands, Germany and Australia.

Eden stages the races in partnership with St Austell Running Club. Long-time Eden race director Doug Alsop stepped aside from his usual role to compete in the marathon for the first time this year. Andy Trudgian took up the role of race director in his stead.

Eden chief executive Gordon Seabright, who ran the full marathon, said: “This was an epic event to mark our 10th Eden Marathon. Cornwall threw every sort of weather it could at us – starting in pouring rain, buffeted by wind on the tors and finishing in glorious sunshine in front of the Biomes.

“There was an incredible spirit on the route, with runners supporting each other, villagers turning out to support us, and the amazing marshals and volunteers. It was even more special to be joined by our friends from Five Talents UK – a big group of runners getting their first experience of the Clay Country.

“And it was a very special thrill to welcome Benard, not only to today’s event but also the parkrun on Saturday. He has raised the bar for us all and has been incredibly generous in sharing his running expertise, taking us to a new level over this memorable weekend.”

Tracey Smith, Eden’s commercial director and the organiser of the Eden Marathon since the beginning, said: “What a journey we’ve been on during our first ten events. Benard’s incredible record-breaking win is the latest in a long line of great achievements Eden has seen over the years, whether it’s winning races, setting personal bests or just getting round our notoriously tough course.

“It’s been a great journey and one we couldn’t have done without the help and support of our friends at St Austell Running Club, the volunteers and marshals ensuring everyone is looked after on the course and, of course, all the runners who have competed over the years.”