Mergia gives her all to claim women’s title

Women's race winner Aselefech Mergia crosses the finishing line
Women's race winner Aselefech Mergia crosses the finishing line
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Champion Piotr Meller with duathlon organiser Rob Piggot.  Picture: Neil Marshall (170306-18)

Defending champion ready for Portsmouth Duathlon mission

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Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia pushed herself to the absolute limit to win the women’s race.

The former World Half Marathon runner-up looked in serious pain immediately after her victory as she battled her way past the Kenyan pair of Doris Changeywo and Irene Jerotich to post a winning time of 52min 55sec.

Changeywo, last year’s Commonwealth Games 10,000m silver medallist, and Jerotich – who won the marathon title in New Delhi – clocked 53.34 and 53.43 behind the champion.

Mergia was always at the front of a seven-strong pack but was content to sit in during the early stages of the race as the women shared the workload.

But Mergia made the definitive move around the seven-mile mark to follow in the footsteps of Derartu Tulu, who set an Ethiopian best performance of 51.07 with her 2005 victory.

Mergia said: ‘I decided that was the best point to get clear as I knew when we turned for the last two miles that the wind would make it very difficult.

‘I’m very happy to run well but it was very hard.’

Briton Charlotte Purdue claimed fourth place, despite picking up an ankle injury midway through the race.

However, she insisted she was pleased with a run that sealed the English 10-mile championship.

She said: ‘I’m definitely pleased and I loved the distance. It’s a case of the longer, the better for me.

‘It was tough because after four miles I slipped on my ankle on the cobbles and thought I had twisted it.

‘It wasn’t too bad but then my calf started cramping up and it was getting really tight.’

The talented youngster also had a tough battle with Jerotich on the final stretch as they attempted to grab third spot, with the Portsmouth crowd playing their part in attempting to help the home favourite.

Purdue said: ‘I caught up with Jerotich with about three miles to go and went past her but then she stayed with me and overtook me with about 800m to go. We had a good battle for the last few hundred metres but I gave it my all.’