You'd think after winning the women's race at Leek Half Marathon you'd put your feet up for a bit. Not Jennifer Rich, who after recording an impressive 1:31:55 at Sunday's (20 August) race, headed back to cheer on runners on the final stretch of the race.
One runner, Andrea Williams, was particularly grateful for Jennifer's actions, commenting afterwards on socia media: "I would like to thank this lady as she encouraged me in the last 50m or so to the finish line and is was sorely needed after this hilly one."
Jennifer explained to runABC Midlands why she decided to show her support: "After the race, I always like to head back on the course to cheer the runners on and I thought this would probably be welcomed at Leek Half given that cruelly-placed hill right at the end. I can't remember what I said specifically but I remember this particular runner running really strongly on this last part when a lot of other folk looked absolutely shattered.
"I probably said she was looking strong, that the hard part was done and that the end was in sight! It really is one horrid hill. On paper absolutely fine, but at a race like Leek, it's the last thing you want to take you to the finish."
Jennifer (Steel City Striders) finished over a minute ahead of last year’s winner, Gemma Barnett of Vale Royal AC, who finished second in 1:33:06. Tracy Dean of Raidlight UK was third in 1:33:20.
Simon Myatt of Trentham RC won the 2017 Leek Half Marathon in 1:16:05, going one better than his runner-up spot at the Meerbrook 15K. Carl Moulton of Boalloy RC was second in 1:17:00 with Gareth Cooke of Penistone FRAC coming third in 1:20:28. The last runner crossed the line in 3:10:36.
A resolute field of 245 runners took on the half marathon, which enjoys a reputation as one of the toughest half marathons in the UK. The route has 1220ft of climbing, passing Hen Cloud and The Roaches before descending towards Meebrook although runners may have been thankful it did not include Gun Hill! There was a steep climb to the finish at Brough Park, followed by cakes and live music at the bandstand to help runners recover.
The Leek Half Marathon is part of the NSRRA series of races and, along with the Meerbrook 15K and Alsager 5, forms a popular trio of races organised by Ken Rushton and team.