DAN BAILEY powered to victory in the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon after negotiating his main challenge – the busy seafront.
The Victory AC athlete finished first in a time of 1hr 16min 27sec.
He was more than three minutes ahead of his nearest challenger, Fabien Lassonde (1.19.43), with City of Portsmouth’s Robert Fryer third (1.20.53)
The glorious sunshine and light breeze on Sunday morning made for superb running conditions – but also ensured there was a large crowd of walkers out to enjoy the welcome change in weather after the miserable start to 2013.
Race organiser Rob Piggott was on the lead bike but could not ride on the promenade and, with the route not closed to the public, it made for a slalom test during the final few miles to the finish on Southsea seafront.
Bailey, 21, found that more challenging than the muddy beach and the boggy Bransbury Park sections of the course.
He said: ‘The beach was a bit of a strain through the mud and the sand.
‘It’s the hardest part of the course but was not the most tricky.
‘Navigating along the promenade was the really tricky bit.
‘I think the whole of Portsmouth decided to go for a walk and weaving in and out of all the people was difficult.
‘People didn’t know what was happening. I think they thought I was just out for a jog on a Sunday morning.’
Bailey, who completed the Meon Valley Plod a week earlier in atrocious conditions, clearly enjoys the half marathon – put on by Piggott to raise money for the RNLI.
‘I won it two years ago and finished fourth last year,’ said Bailey.
‘It is a fun race and I will always keep coming back.
‘I did the (Meon Valley) Plod last week as well so I could feel it in my legs a little bit. That was three hours of running and just about finishing.
‘Conditions were perfect for the half marathon and we had a nice little tail wind to push us along the seafront.’
Bailey is targeting Long Distance World Duathlon Championship glory in Switzerland in September.
It’s early days in the preparations but he is happy with the progress he is making.
He said: ‘I went in 2011 and came away with a silver medal.
‘My aim this time is to go there and dominate and come away with a gold.
‘It’s good to know I could easily run that time for the half marathon – feeling comfortable.’
Denmead Striders’ Laura Allen won the ladies’ race in 1.35.07, ahead of Sandie Howard of Portsmouth Joggers (1.35.43) and Southsea Pirates’ Emma Jolley (1.38.20) in second and third respectively.
Organiser Piggott, who runs the Believe & Achieve personal training consultancy, has now hit the £11,000 mark for funds raised for the lifeboats in Eastney through his series of events.
He said: ‘We had a seven-per-cent increase in runners this year so it is definitely here to stay.
‘Next year we will probably look to start the race a bit earlier to avoid the problems with the crowds.
‘It is a wonderful course, with the lovely muddy beach and the bog at Bransbury.
‘We have got a mix of everything.’