Vernon out to end wait for home glory

Home favourite Andy Vernon has set his sights on maiden Great South Run glory.

Saturday, 22nd October 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 8:09 pm
Andy Vernon with Jess Andrews at the official launch of the Great South Run at HMS Victory yesterday Picture: Peter Langdown

That’s after the Fareham athlete registered a morale-boosting victory in the Great Birmingham Run last weekend.

Vernon beat fellow Briton Chris Thompson by 22 seconds in the 13.1 mile race, claiming an impressive win in 1hr 03min 32sec.

And having regained his confidence following a difficult two years in the sport, which included a disappointing 10,000m display at the summer Olympics in Rio, the 30-year-old is now fired up to capture a title which has eluded him on two previous attempts.

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Vernon said: ‘Winning in Birmingham was a good confidence boost to me.

‘I have had such a bad two years that I went into a low confidence.

‘But coming back, running strong and hard and feeling good while running, meant that for the first time in a long while I felt I was back to where I should be.

‘I am carrying that confidence through with me into tomorrow’s race and hoping I can repeat the win.’

In Vernon’s favour this weekend is a field of runners yet to reach their aspirations at international level.

And having recovered from his Second City heroics in good time, The News Sports Awards 2014 sportsman of the year is ready to seize the winning moment at an event close to his heart.

‘I have recovered quicker than I thought I was going to,’ said Vernon.

‘I thought it was going to take a full week to recover from Birmingham but after only two or three days I was actually starting to feel good.

‘I wouldn’t say it is a risk but having two races so close together can present its own problems.

‘But I seem to have been okay so far.

‘And because this is my home race I would really like to try to win the Great South Run and give the local crowd something to cheer.

‘I am from Portsmouth and this is the race that is closest to my heart so I hope to go out there and do the business.

‘Without putting myself or any of the other British guys down, not having other international athletes there makes life a lot easier.

‘The competition isn’t as high.

‘It’s a chance that I would really like to capitalise on and go and do it.’

The fact Vernon will enter tomorrow’s race as the man to beat does not have any bearing on the way the double-European Championship medallist intends to run the world’s leading 10-mile event.

Indeed, the Pompey supporter intends to go full tilt from start to finish and insists he has no problems with leading from the front in his victory pursuit.

Vernon added: ‘The field of runners doesn’t really change the way that I go into the race – I am still just going to run hard.

‘Whether or not there are other talented guys in there as well I would still just be running hard.

‘I might have been running hard in third or fourth in previous races whereas this time I might be running hard at the front of the race, which makes running the race a bit easier.

‘Once you are there and at the front then you can relax a little bit.

‘And hopefully things will go to plan.’