ANDY VERNON showed a clean pair of heels to Chris Thompson as he took the Great Birmingham Run title yesterday.
The athlete, who started his career with Stubbington Green Runners, will now plot a repeat success when he returns to Portsmouth on Sunday.
He’ll be one of the big favourites to claim the victory in his home city as he lines up for the Great South Run.
That would complete an impressive double after winning the challenging half marathon in Birmingham with a time of 1hr 03min 32sec.
Thompson finished second yesterday (1.03.54).
He is again likely to be one of the main contenders on Sunday when the Great Britain duo line up in a strong field for the prestigious 10-mile race.
But the welcome success in Birmingham will be a big boost to Vernon, 30, after recent injury troubles.
He kicked away at the eight-mile point and never looked back to take a rare big-race victory.
Vernon, who now represents Aldershot, Farnham & District, said: ‘I couldn’t tell you the last time I won a race!
‘I was really pleased to win, for a couple of years now I’ve been struggling with injury.
‘It has taken me a lot of time to get back, so this has given me a lot of confidence moving on.
‘The Great South Run is next in my home city of Portsmouth.
‘This is another good one for me and I hope to try to get another win there.’
Thompson, who also runs for Aldershot, was planning to stick to his pace and gradually catch Vernon up when they reached the difficult hill in the final mile or so in Birmingham.
But he never got back on terms and had to settle for second ahead of Belgian Koen Naert in third (1.04.240.
Thompson said: ‘I was hoping he (Vernon) had overcooked it.
‘I did what I could but to be fair to the guy he held strong.
‘He did well, he did very well.’
Around 30,000 people will be taking part in four events across Saturday and Sunday in Southsea, including the Junior and Mini Great South Run and the Great South Run 5k.