VICTORY in the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon has set up a nice triple celebration for Stuart Nicholas.
The Bournemouth AC runner took the title with a stylish performance before he turns 29 on December 23 just ahead of the Christmas festivities.
The tough trail course presented many challenges but the talented marathon runner showed he’s in superb form with a very good time of 2hr 47min 12sec to take the title on Sunday.
Second place went to Bracknell Forest’s Neil Kevern in 2.49.29 and third was Andrew Pace in 2.57.01.
The prize for first lady went to defending champion Sarah Hill, of Farnham Runners, who showed her class with another great run to finish fourth overall in 2.58.33.
Second lady was Nicole Scott who also ran very strongly to finish in 3.09.53 and third place went to Valeria Sesto (3.20.14).
Bournemouth’s Nicholas has now completed 36 marathons and it was a sweet victory on his fourth appearance at the popular Portsmouth race.
He said: ‘I’m chuffed to win, I like this race. It’s a good run out before Christmas.
‘The race is very well organised and I enjoy the course.
‘I do like a good road marathon but the mixed terrain course gives the legs something different to do.
‘You have to be more careful and it’s more technical. It’s harder but it’s good.
‘Before this race I did the Christmas Pudding 10k in Christchurch and did quite well in that so I knew I was in good shape.
‘I was leading for the first six miles of the marathon, then the guy who finished second, Neil, came past me out of nowhere. I was thinking “where did you come from?”
‘We were chatting a bit but I didn’t want to interrupt him too much.
‘I kept him in my sights and at the turnaround point he had about an 800m lead.
‘Then I slowly closed the gap and caught him by about 20 miles.
‘We had a bit of a chin wag again and I think he was surprised to see me.
‘When I got back into the lead I knew I had to keep the pace going.
‘I was getting updates from the lead bike and when I got on to the promenade for the final two miles I couldn’t see anyone.
‘It was very pleasing to win and I’m thankful to everyone for the support around the course.
‘The marshals are all cheering and you get encouragement from the other runners when you are coming back in the other direction. It’s brilliant, it sums up what running is about.’
Organiser Rob Piggott and his team hosted three races and it was a great festive occasion in Portsmouth.
They had 879 finishers for the marathon while 339 people completed The Harbour 50k race and 376 runners finished the half marathon.