Runners return to Eden for marathon effort
More than 800 runners lined up for the iconic Eden Project marathon and half marathon in pouring rain and thunder storms yesterday to welcome its return after a year's hiatus.
The event, which sees competitors wind their way across the surrounding clay country, was last run in 2011 but returned this year with a more challenging course and a finish beneath the shadow of the project's iconic biomes.
Firing the starting pistol was former Olympic rower Ed Coode, who claimed gold in the 2004 Olympics in Athens as part of the coxless four team which included Matthew Pinsent.
Despite the challenging conditions, course record holder Pete Roper, 48, from Dorset, returned to win the event for the third time in its four-year history with a time of 2 hours 55 minutes and 53 seconds – 13 minutes ahead of second place runner Marc Smerdon.
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Mr Roper, who plans to make this his last race at Eden, said: "It was good, the course was harder than previous years and it was really wet so the off-road sections were very tough. It took it out of me a bit but my aim was to win for a third time and I'm very pleased that I did."
Finishing fastest for the women was Isobel Wykes, 35, from Probus, Cornwall, who crossed the line with a time of 3 hours, 24 minutes and 40 seconds. Emma Murray, 47, from Penwithick, who runs for co-organisers St Austell Running Club, crossed the line second in a time of 3 hours, 40 minutes and 30 seconds.
Peter Le Grice, 26, from Newlyn, won the half marathon in a course record – 1 hour, 12 minutes and 56 seconds.
The fastest woman in the half marathon was Heather Fisher, 24, from Sheffield who runs with Sheffield Running Club with a time of 1 hour, 29 minutes and 30 seconds.
Tracey Smith, Eden's commercial projects and relationship manager, thanked everyone who made the race's return possible.
She said: "It's great to see the Eden Project marathon and half-marathon return to the running calendar, everyone's had a fantastic day and we've seen amazing performances from everyone who competed."