LAURA ALLEN has promised to return next year in a bid to defend her Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon crown.
The Denmead Striders athlete, 32, powered to victory at the weekend in a time of 1hr 35min 07sec.
She was clear of Sandie Howard, Portsmouth Joggers, who was second (1.35.43), with Emma Jolley, of Southsea Pirates, third (1.38.20).
But it was only when Allen realised she was the leading lady on the course that she really put the hammer down.
She said: ‘I intended to use it as a training run really.
‘I didn’t realise I was the first woman until people watching were shouting to me.
‘Then I thought “I am going to race this now”.
‘You always feel under pressure but I had an idea how far ahead I was.
‘It’s nice to win an event close to home and I will have to come back next year to defend my title.’
Sunday’s event, put on by Rob Piggott, proved a great success once again and Allen enjoyed the challenge.
She added: ‘It was tougher than I thought it would be.
‘I managed to negotiate around the edge of the muddy beach section quite well.
‘But there were people losing their shoes in the mud.
‘It wasn’t my fastest time because of the terrain but it was great to win.’