City battle bodes well for the summer

Ali Watson  and Katy Bradley scan finishing tokens for first time parkrunners Rebecca Howell and Jess Gwynn

Gallery: Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun 149

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Karrie Blake edged out team-mate Cassie Thorp in an exciting Eastleigh 10k.

Blake announced she is still a distance danger as both City of Portsmouth talents recorded personal best times at the high-class event.

The 35-year-old claimed sixth place as she was just edged out by Susie Bush in an exciting finale, as Blake clocked a time of 35min 33sec.

And there was more good news as new City talent Thorp came home just 13 seconds behind Blake in seventh.

Her time of 35.46 was a whopping 47 seconds faster than she recorded when taking part in the Chichester 10k earlier this year.

That highlighted the progress Thorp is making after she made the decision to focus on running instead of playing football.

There is a healthy friendly rivalry developing between the pair, who are coached by Gerry North.

Both girls are using their talent to push the other forward – and that could be seen in their efforts in Eastleigh.

Internationals athletes claimed the top-three spots as Charnwood’s Hannah Whitmore took victory in a high-class contest.

How close Thorp and Blake were to the head of the field bodes well for the summer ahead, according to North.

He said: ‘It was a thrilling race and Karrie and Cassie both smashed their personal bests.

‘The women’s field was very, very strong and there was a lot of quality there.

‘It was a good battle between Cassie and Karrie. They weren’t far apart at all. Cassie started faster but Karrie has a bit more experience and managed to catch her at the 5k mark and hold her off.

‘It was a brilliant run from both of them and I’m chuffed to bits with them.

‘The first three home were internationals and it was still really tight.

‘Karrie has the bit between the teeth now and has been training really hard.

‘She is ranked third in the women’s V35 over 10k and her focus is over shorter distances.

‘The signs are certainly good for the summer for both Karrie and Cassie.’

Blake and Thorp weren’t the only City members to fair well in Eastleigh.

Gavin Jones and Tracy Burrows were also in action and both clocked PBs.

Jones annihilated his previous best with a time of 35.17, while Burrows took 42 seconds off her PB at the age of 45 in 42.29.

Chris Scott delivered a fine display to be the first City member across the line in 34.21.

He wasn’t the first local finisher, however, as Chichester’s James Baker finished 12th in 32.38.

Stubbington’s Mark Le Gassick again ran well to finish 16th (32.53), with Portsmouth Jogger Robin Ward 25th in 33.22.

Sharon Baggaley finished in 46.02, while the City women’s team finished third overall.

North now has a spell of warm-weather training lined up for Blake and Thorp as they look to kick on from the promising progress they are making.

He said: ‘Both Karrie and Cassie are going to come to Majorca with me to get some good training under their belts before the season starts.’