Bristol Half Marathon attracts record runners
A record-breaking 16,177 people entered the 21st Bristol Half Marathon, which organisers described as an "amazing" event.
The number of entrants topped last year's figure of 16,049 and yesterday's race even saw a Bristolian storm across the finishing line to win the women's race.
Thousands of people lined the city's streets to cheer encouragement to runners of all shapes and sizes around the 13.1-mile route. Some ran for themselves, a great many ran for charity and the more extrovert donned fancy dress and hurtled round as smurfs, gorillas, bananas and nuns.
Famous faces included Holby City actress Phoebe Thomas, 26, of North London, who finished in a time of one hour, 37 minutes.
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She said: "I did this just off the back of swine flu and I'm really pleased.
"Training was pretty difficult but I managed some lunchtimes and afternoons."
Athlete Nick Rose, 57, of Stoke Bishop, is British half marathon record holder, having set a blistering time of 61 minutes, three seconds.
Encouraging the runners home at the finish line, he said: "I've been there and done it and I admire them. I admire the causes they're running for as well.
"I think it's great Bristol can put on an event like this."
Many roads were closed and traffic was diverted to allow the runners to thread through the city streets.
The start and finish was in Anchor Road and crowds congregated at several "cheer points" along the route including points at Castle Park, The Centre, Prince Street Bridge, Sylvan Way and Cumberland Basin.
Millennium Square was a hive of activity, as runners proudly donning finisher's medals recuperated with their friends and families and viewed those still running on a giant screen.
Kenyan Ezekiel Cherop blazed a trail to win the event but it was a Bristolian who led the women home.
Coventry-based Cherop, aged 24, from Nairobi, crossed the finishing line in 63:20 minutes. Women's race winner Claire Hallissey, 26, of Lawrence Hill, finished the 13.1-mile course in a personal best time of 72 minutes.
Shortly after he crossed the line, professional runner Mr Cherop told the Bristol Evening Post: "I feel good. The course was very good and I had no problems. This is a wonderful race, I enjoyed it."
A delighted Miss Hallissey achieved her goal of finishing in under 73 minutes.
She has now qualified to take part in the World Half Marathon, in October, in Birmingham. She beamed: "I can't complain, I really enjoyed it and it felt really good. This is the first time I've won; I was second in the Bristol 10K earlier this year."
The wheelchair race was won by David Cooke in a time of one hour, 21 minutes and 50 seconds.
The event also marked the launch of the Bristol 10K race, which will take place in the city next spring.
Georgette Van Hoof, race organiser, said: "It has been absolutely amazing.
"With over 16,000 entries and thousands more watching, the 2009 Bristol Half Marathon must be the biggest sporting event seen in the region this year.
"I'm delighted the race is attracting a bigger and bigger field every year; it goes to show the race's legacy for the city and sport.
"We are seeing more amateurs and first-time runners being inspired to train for the half marathon.
"And for those not quite up to 13 miles there's the 10K race next year.
"I'd like to thank all our volunteer marshals and all the people who work behind the scenes to make the Bristol Half Marathon such a success."