Steel: Relief to win maiden Great South Run title

Gemma Steel wins the Great South Run. Picture: Duncan Shepherd
Gemma Steel wins the Great South Run. Picture: Duncan Shepherd
Members of Portsmouth Joggers at the 250th Southsea parkrun. Picture: Vernon Nash (180398-010)

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Gemma Steel toasted a maiden Great South Run women’s title and admitted: It is a relief to have finally done it.

The Leicestershire ace finished runner-up in the race three years ago.

She was beaten by just two seconds in 2014 and has been determined to beat that effort ever since.

Steel was part of a three-woman group also including Lily Partridge and Charlotte Purdue who broke away from their rivals around the six-mile mark yesterday.

It was Partridge who led until nine miles before Steel took the initiative to forge ahead. She won with a time of 55min 25sec.

The 2014 European cross country champion revealed she was happy to sit in behind Partridge and pounce.

She said: ‘Lily tried to push it on and she has done that before in races.

‘That did me a bit of a favour, to be honest, because I usually like to take it on from the front.

‘I just had to sit in, although I was thinking “come on, let’s get on with it”.

‘I had to be patient and cautious at the start.

‘For Lily to take it on was in my favour as I had to chase her then and it wasn’t down to me to break away from the rest.

‘I played it cool before I caught Lily down the home straight.

‘I have had that feeling in the last mile before having been two seconds off success in 2014.

‘To have won it this time was a relief and an amazing feeling.

‘It’s one ticked off the list.

“This is one of the big races, one of the flagship events and I’m really happy.’

Steel has been in a decent vein of form this season having won the Great Ireland Run in April, while she was sixth in the Great North Run last month.

The high winds made the 10-mile contest a tough test, with the front trio pulling well clear of the rest.

Although many found the blustery winds difficult to handle, Steel insisted she enjoyed the conditions along Southsea seafront.

‘I quite like running in those conditions as it slows everyone down and it comes down to a test of strength rather than speed.

‘The wind makes it be a bit of a distance contest instead and I wasn’t bothered about the time.’

Despite not being a local runner, Steel hailed members of the crowd who got behind her.

‘Everyone was shouting me on, which means a lot.

‘It’s really nice because a lot of others in the race are from round here and for them to be on my side was quite nice.

‘I’ll definitely be back next year to defend my title.’