Marathon man Will proves he is back up to speed

MARATHON hopeful Will Bodkin has taken confidence from a winning showing in Saturday’s FNB Cross-Country League opener at L’Ancresse East.

In the end he was every bit as convincing a winner as Nat Whitty was in the women’s race, despite his recent scramble to get back to fitness after untimely injury.

Ahead of lining up as favourite for the Guernsey Marathon this coming Sunday, Bodkin sought one last leg-tester in a strong domestic field over nearly three miles of the hilly ‘Stonecrusher’ course.

He passed the test comfortably and clocking 15min. 34sec., he scored a win from teenage triathlete Thierry Le Cheminant – who had the run of his life so far for second. Reigning champion James Priest had set the pace initially as those three, plus the normally UK-based Richard Bartram, strode onto the coastal section towards Loophole Tower No. 5 in a tight cluster.

Bodkin made some ground on the grassy second half of the circuit to lead by a second through the first of three laps, before pulling away further from there.

Le Cheminant ultimately made his own break from Priest, who is returning from a post-track season break, clocking 15-56 to the champion’s 16-05. Past sub-4min. 1,500m runners Bartram and Mike Batiste filled the top-five.

After struggling to a third-place finish at last month’s Butterfield Half Marathon, Bodkin was rather upbeat with this result.

‘I wanted a bit of a confidence booster after that half,’ he said.

‘I’ve had three weeks off injured before the half marathon.

‘Last week was a great training week, this week’s been pretty good and I feel like I am back to where I was before the injury.

‘It was good, but it was quite hard work. “Priesty” went pretty quick at the start and took it out – it was an honest race.’

In the women’s race, Whitty’s patient approach paid off.

The Guernsey 800m record holder is back racing after five quiet years and gradually worked her way up the field to take the category honours in 19-02.

Women's race winner Nat Whitty. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin, 30095526)

That set her 30sec. ahead of reigning champion Nix Petit as triathlete Chloe Truffitt took third in 20-06.

‘I wasn’t expecting that – I wasn’t really expecting anything,’ Whitty said.

‘I ran the first lap easy for what the start of a race feels like, and then I started picking off people beginning of the second lap.

‘Thought I’d misjudged it half-way through, but it’s only a short lap so I managed to get through. Bit of middle-distance tactics going on there.’

On the comeback trail from a long-term back injury, she added: ‘I’m just trying to get back into training and doing some races – I’m not trying to set too many goals as I don’t know how my body’s going to hold up. I’d like to do the whole series if I can manage that.’

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