Gemma Steel run her way into the record books today in Sheffield when she won the Bupa Great Yorkshire Run womens’race for the third successive year and smashed the course record, writes Graham Walker.
Her hat-trick win saw her finish the 10k route in a time of just 32 minutes and 20 seconds - knocking 32 seconds off the previous best.
First man over the finish line was Ryan McLeod with a time of 29 minutes and 40 seconds.
But the event wasn’t just about elite runners - many of the 6,000 who took part were racing for Bupa and other great causes.
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British international Gemma, aged 27, a GB member of Charnwood Athletic Club in Loughborough, had a scare of not finding her racing shoes until just prior to the race.
But she won in style - smashing her two-year-old course record.
Steel produced another magnificent performance around the testing 10k Sheffield course she knows so well to break the tape - to blow away the challenges of Susan Partridge and Jilly Woodthorpe.
Scotland’s Partridge, an outstanding tenth finisher in last month’s World Championship Marathon, showed she is recovered from that testing race setting a personal best of 33:18 while Jilly Woodthorpe, last year’s runner-up from Barnsley, was third in 34:58.
But it was another momentous day for Steel who, worried she might have to compete in training shoes, was relieved when her coach found the missing flats and handed them over only minutes before the contest got underway.
Then the athlete, who raised eyebrows and heightened her profile immensely when beating the more experienced four-time British Olympian Jo Pavey two years ago, produced another storming performance.
The bit between her teeth she concentrated on mixing it with the elite men and at the halfway point was lying fourth just behind the leaders who were very surprised with a female’s presence and eventually was the sixth runner across the line.
“It was only five minutes before the race began that I got my shoes and my adrenaline was flowing so I just went off fast and it saw me keep close to the first five men,” said Steel who was well clear of Partridge at 5k.
“It did the trick and as I’m usually used to running against fast Kenyan women it more or less replicated that type of race and did a lot in helping me score a hatrick and finish off in style with a course record.”
Men’s winner McLeod had a successful re-match with Ethiopian born Yared Hagos who he defeated for the Bupa Great North 10k title in Gateshead two months ago and it again concluded in a sprint finish.
McLeod, a British international showing a lengthy period of injuries are now a thing of the past, waited until the final 200m to power ahead of Hagos who lives in Newcastle and win by five seconds in a time of 29:40 with another Ethiopian, Tesfaye Debele from Bradford, third in 31:03.
“I took it from the gun and at halfway my time was 14:35,” said McLeod, the son of 1984 Olympic 10000m silver medallist Mike. “It slowed coming back but there was a headwind and Hagos then did his share of the work putting in some hard surges.
“But it was a similar race to Gateshead and I feel I am definitely on my way back. I think that’s my second fastest ever 10k over a hard course and it’s a season’s best. Now (injury free) I’m looking forward to the track next year.”