City athletes going for Victory in Gerry’s name

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Ian Jones and Gissele Leishman during the Havant parkrun with Hawaii theme. Picture: Keith Woodland

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GERRY NORTH’s memory will live on at the Victory 5 mile road race tomorrow.

North died in April this year and gave his life to the sport and, latterly, City of Portsmouth AC.

He was one of the instigators of the Victory 5 and that will be fittingly remembered with a special trophy.

The Gerry North Memorial Cup will be awarded to the first City of Portsmouth athlete to cross the line tomorrow.

Event organiser Peter Newton, who has been involved in the race since 1979, said: ‘Gerry was one of the instigators of the Victory 5 and was a director of the race so we thought it was fitting to award some form of trophy in his memory.

‘It will go to the first City of Portsmouth athlete, so it’ll be something special to our club where he was a member for so long.’

The race is a classic in the five mile race calendar, attracting top athletes from around the world - and this year is no exception.

More than 750 athletes have registered to take part.

Ben Siwa of Uganda heads up the men’s field and Gladys Yator of Kenya leads the elite women’s section.

Siwa is travelling from his overseas base to tackle his first five mile race, but with a personal best of 28.39 for 10k – faster than any British runner this year – a fast finishing time is expected.

Yator is making her second visit to the UK, having set a course record in the Torbay Half Marathon earlier this year.

Newton added: ‘The race is of a good standard and it’s worthy of kudos to post a fast time.’

The domestic battle will centre on runners looking to do well particularly in the Hampshire Road Race League, which kicked off at Overton last Sunday.

Athletes can accrue individual as well as team points towards the league, adding an extra incentive to the race.

Six of the top 10 will be going head-to-head for the second week with Daniel O’Boyle (Stubbington Green), Tom Stevens (Eastleigh), Julian Manning (Denmead Striders), Simon Stevens (Winchester & District) and Zac Lahlal (Victory AC) toeing the line.

The challenge will come from Bournemouth’s Ian Habgood, who was third last year, Elliot Robinson of Aldershot, Farnham & District, Will Macken of Bedford & County and James Baker of Chichester.

It is a similar pattern in the women’s race with many of the top finishers from the Overton 5 challenging for honours, with Kath Bailey of Winchester & District, second at Overton and third-placed Erica Fogg of New Forest leading the pack.

The biggest challenge may come from Bedford & County runner Rachel Gibbs, winner of the D Day 10k in June.

The course is the same as last year, starting and finishing on the athletics track at the Mountbatten Centre.

The race then continues with an outward leg at Stamshaw Promenade, a lap of Lakeside followed by a return leg at Stamshaw Promenade.

In addition to the five miles, there will be a 10k run for fun where runners will use the same course as the main race, but with an added loop mid-race..The race begins at 11am.

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