Guernsey Press

Ruel and Sword victorious as new record-holder hails ‘amazing route’

Winning a marathon and smashing the course record would be a fantasy for most runners.

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Guillaume Ruel and Lindsay Sword took top honours in pleasant conditions on Sunday. (Pictures by Sophie Rabey, 33146011)

But for France’s Guillaume Ruel, his triumphant 2hrs 31min. 29sec. run at the Sure Guernsey Marathon was merely a pace rehearsal for a 100km world record attempt in Japan on 30 June.

The current French 100km record-holder won this comparatively short and sharp 26.2-miler convincingly from his brother, Pierre-Antoine Ruel, as home favourite Ethan Woodhead took third in a shiny new personal best of 2-40-24.

Meanwhile, Lindsay Sword brought plenty of joy for Guernsey when she claimed women’s honours on her marathon debut.

She posted 3-22-21 to top the podium from USA visitor Courtney Holmes and another local runner, Susie Armstrong.

These runners were among the 156 finishers who absorbed fairly still and sunny conditions over the course, which started at South Esplanade, quickly ramped up Le Val des Terres and continues its way clockwise around the island’s coastal roads with a few added sections.

The Ruel brothers Guillaume, left, and Pierre-Antoine at Fort Grey. (33146039)

The Ruel brothers were still together at the 10-mile marker near L’Eree, having steadily increased their gap on the field.

But the eventual winner had opened up a substantial lead by the time they hit half way at Vazon, leaving him free to cruise home well under Will Bodkin’s course record of 2-35-15.

His brother held off Woodhead to secure second in 2-35-53 before both Frenchmen dashed off to catch the return ferry mere minutes after finishing.

‘I’m training for a 100k world record attempt at the end of June, so this one was, like, the pace of my 100k,’ the winner said during a brief rest after the race.

‘I’m happy with the win, for sure, and the record.’

This Guernsey victory backs up his second and third places in past Jersey Marathons. He hopes to return to both in the future.

Ruel called the event and its route ‘amazing’, having not been too perturbed by Le Val des Terres.

‘What a hill at the start. It’s good for finishing your warm-up, I think, and after it’s such beautiful landscapes that we forgot about the hill.’

Woodhead had to dig deep after 20 miles but still successfully beat his best from Jersey last year to take the Channel Islander honours.

‘It’s such a proud moment,’ he said.

‘I know I was the local favourite, but there’s some really strong runners out there and I’m very proud to be the first Channel Islands finisher. So happy to get onto the podium and to get a PB as well.’

Ethan Woodhead finishing as the top Channel Islander in the men’s race. (33146041)

Brighton Phoenix veteran Jon Clays claimed fourth in 2-41-51 after lengthening his lead in the second half on Guernsey’s Ciaran Slattery, who completed the top five in 2-50-17.

Not far behind came great PBs for two domestic regulars, with Adam Grogan posting 2-50-38 after running most of the distance with his friend Danny Legg, who followed in 2-52-13.

These runners also managed to make the most of race-long home support that Woodhead called ‘so brilliant’.

‘The weather has helped. If we were running in the rain, I do not think there would be so many people – there were hundreds.’

The top local man had come back with a sign to support his girlfriend, Sword, who has quickly settled into Guernsey’s athletics and triathlon community after moving from Scotland last year.

Sword had to play a waiting game in order to take women’s honours.

Fellow Guernsey athlete Armstrong, who moved to the island just under two years ago, was quickest on paper and had set the pace initially.

But Armstrong ran into some struggles from 10 miles onwards and the even newer arrival – a local primary school teacher – worked her way past around the halfway mark, building up a considerable lead.

The marathon debutante embraced the local support on her way to victory, not least from her pupils.

Lindsay Sword celebrates a podium-topping performance on her marathon debut. (33146045)

‘They were supporting me all round the course,’ she said.

‘I loved every single second.’

Sword was ‘really over the moon’ with her eventual victory.

‘I’m so happy. It’s so nice to see all the training pay off.

‘I have been a wee bit injured these last five weeks, so it’s good to see the training is still there.’

Although she has big ambitions in triathlon this year, including the inaugural Granite 100 and an Island Games qualifying push, Sword admits she is rather enjoying her running.

‘I love running and it’s my favourite discipline – I just want to see where I can get with it.

‘I surprise myself with every race because I do a lot better than I think I will.’

The full-distance field setting off up the Val des Terres at the start of the course. (33146043)

Holmes eventually came through for second in 3-33-12, having made quite the journey simply to reach the start line.

The American competitor has family roots in the island and was running in memory of her Guernsey-born mother-in-law’s parents, Laurence and Marian Devenport, who once operated St Martin’s Post Office before emigrating to Canada.

‘It was an exceptional day on an exquisitely picturesque course,’ she said.

‘Completing my ninth marathon, I can confidently say this race boasted the most enthusiastic crowds and dedicated local supporters.’

Armstrong still made it onto the podium as the next local runner, clocking 3-43-02.

The next two women’s positions came down to a close finish between visiting athletes Sarah Davidson (3-47-40) and Harriet Barker (3-47-46).

  • Results and details of support events to follow.