Steph Twell made a strong marathon debut in Valencia on Sunday, clocking 2:30:12 for the second-quickest time over 26.2 miles by a British female this year.
Ahead of the event, Twell had told AW that she thought a time of 2:30 would be “a safe stab” for her first attempt at the distance and she proved spot on with her prediction.
She ran a negative split, clocking 75:32 for the first half and 74:40 for the second to cross the finish in eighth place in the women’s race.
Ashete Dido completed an Ethiopian double as she claimed victory in 2:21:14 after Leul Gebrselassie won the men’s race in 2:04:30. Both times broke the previous Spanish all-comers’ records of 2:24:48 and 2:05:15, set in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Kenya’s Lydia Cheromei improved her own world over-40 marathon record with 2:22:11 in second, while Ethiopia’s Tinbit Gidey Weldegebriel was third in the women’s race in 2:23:37.
The top three all went sub-2:05 in the men’s race as Bahrain’s El Hassan El Abbassi clocked 2:04:42 and Mathew Kisorio 2:04:52.
Twell had started off with a split of 17:58 for 5km and she went through 10km in 36:02. The 29-year-old picked up the pace and went through 30km in 1:46:58 and 35km in 2:04:30.
Her step up to 26.2 miles comes during a year in which she raced both 1500m and 5000m at the Commonwealth Games and the 5000m at the European Championships.
She also placed seventh at the inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, which came after she married fellow runner Joseph Morwood and delayed her honeymoon in order to race for Scotland in Wales.
In Valencia she was keen to test herself “to gain experience of the race and for me to understand what further marathon training requires” ahead of potentially targeting the marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“I’ve always had ambitions to see how I fare over 26.2 miles,” she had said. “Since becoming five times British 5000m champion on the track, I feel now would be a great time to dip my feet in the water to see if I can also have similar success on the roads.”
Her fellow Scot Callum Hawkins had been due to return to marathon action in Fukuoka on the same day but he was forced to withdraw with a hamstring niggle.
The winner in Japan was Yuma Hattori who ran 2:07:27 to become the first Japanese athlete to win the race since Tsuyoshi Ogata in 2004.