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On marks for a great run.

Byline: Will Oliphant ; Matt Lloyd

THOUSANDS of runners will be nursing aching legs today after pounding the streets of Birmingham in the city's second Half Marathon.

They were cheered on by big crowds who lined the drizzlesoaked streets to encourage them on to the finishing line.

Starting the race were over 200 elite runners competing for the IAAF World Half Marathon title eventually won by Eritrean Zersenay Tadese in the men's race and Kenyan Mary Keitany in the women's.

Tadese clinched his third successive World Half Marathon title in just 59 minutes 35 seconds.

The first British man across the line was Andrew Lemoncello who came 26th with a time of 1.03.03.

First British woman was Claire Hallissey in 25th with a time of 1.12.14.

Olympic double gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes began proceedings for the 12,000 fun runners offering high-fives to many as they crossed the start line on Cambridge Street.

The first amateur runners were not far behind the professionals, clocking impressive times.

Jean Ndaesenga led the pack for the men in a time of just 1.06.17 in the EDF Energy Run.

Susan Partridge came first for the women in 1.12.50.

Those taking part were cheered by spectators lining the 13.1 mile route which passed some of the city's best known landmarks including the International Convention Centre, Cannon Hill Park, Edgbaston cricket ground and Cadbury World. And there was a carnival atmosphere in Centenary Square where thousands gathered to cheer the runners over the final gruelling yards to the finish line.

Runners said the course had been improved since last year's inaugural run and was less hilly.

And they said the support from the Brummie crowd was second to none. As the last runners crossed the line, Dame Kelly took to the main stage in Centenary Square to congratulate those who took part.

She said: "I just want to say it's been a brilliant day. I was at the starting line and I probably high-fived about 10,000 of you.

"Birmingham has held a fantastic event, this is a major championship event and you've been part of it."

Running for the second year in a row, Georgina Foster, aged 24, said the course was much improved on 2008, adding: "It was easier than last year and a nicer run.

"It was a great atmosphere out there amongst the runners and with those cheering us on. I think everyone was grateful for the support from the crowd.

"I knocked a minute off last year's time finishing in one hour 43 minutes, so I'm quite happy, bring on next year!" West Midlands Ambulance and St John Ambulance staff were on hand around the course to take care of numerous bumps and scratches picked up in the slippery conditions but no serious injuries were reported.

WHITTOCK: PAGE 6 GIRLS OUTSHINE MEN: PAGE 29 OUR SAY: PAGE 42

CAPTION(S):

Smiles: (From left) Mail marathon correspondent Jane Tyler, Dame Kelly Holmes at the finish line, Denzil Duplessis and Gwen Heuvel cheer on the runners in Cannon Hill Park, men's race winner Zersenay Tadese celebrates, and Mary Keitany (right) celebrates her win with second-placed Philes Moora Ongori. Happy: Runners show their relief at getting to the finish line in Broad Street after the gruelling 13.1 mile race. And they're off: Runners start the men's race at the 2009 IAAF World Half Marathon in Birmingham.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Oct 12, 2009
Words:572
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