New York turns into a happy ground for Chris Thompson as he produced a strong display over the half marathon in the streets of the famous American city in a big PB of 61:23 to follow up on his victory at the Dash To The Finish 5k in November, deputising well for missing last year’s winner and friend Mo Farah.

Having run a low 62-minuter in South London last autumn, the European silver medallist showed confident and intent from early on to mix it with the abundance of talent on show around him and take his game a level higher over a distance on the upper boundary of his range, consolidating a strong endurance platform for his campaign over 10000m in summer.

‘Thommo’ got off to a 14:05 split in the opening 5k and went past the 10km mark in 29:05 in a six-strong chasing pack some way off the searing pace of Deriba Merga (ETH) and Peter Kirui (KEN) up front to maintain his form nicely through the second half into a fabulous seventh place.

A  string of excellent scalps picked like Brasilian Marilson dos Santos, American Meb Keflezighi, Dathan Ritzenhein and Australian Ben StLawrence in a event lying more in their court will offer a further mental boost as a time around 27:10 looks to beckon over ever more in his specialty on the horizon.

Thompson’s glow rubbed off on a revamped Scott Overall who kept riding on the wave of his marathon breakthrough to finish strongly just a place and a mere two seconds behind in 61:25, shattering his previous marker of 63:21 from Indianapolis last May.

Already selected for London, the 29-year-old marathoner looks to have finally found his niche in the distance world and poised to move up another level on the bounce on the evidence of his performance, having ‘warmed up’ with a 69:47 half in Silverstone a week before on Sunday.

Incidentally, those times saw Thompson move up into eighth and Overall ninth to bring about a considerable revision to the top ten of the British all-time rankings in the distance.

Also breaking new ground was Liverpoolian Jonny Mellor as he ventured deep into uncharted territories to clock a superb debut of 62:59 in 19th place that could set him up nicely for a crack at the Olympic A standard of 27:45 over 10000m, where Thompson and Farah have effectively secured two of the three available Olympic spots, while James Walsh followed on some way off in 32nd in 65:48, his fastest time since 2005.

At the top of the race, Kirui brilliantly weathered the storm of Merga, who attempted to settle affairs from early on, and when he breezed past around 600m out the Ethiopian could offer no answer to slip through the gears to a commanding victory in a PB of 59:39, carving out a striking nine-second gap on his rival (59:48).

Feyisa Lilesa (ETH) was outside the hour into a distant third in 60:45 followed on at a similar interval by Kenyans Wesley Korir and Sam Chelanga who came home tied in a joint PB of 61:19 for fourth and fifth respectively.

Womenwise, Scot Freya Murray set a PB by 10 seconds into 72:32 for 17th and marathon Olympic hopeful Claire Hallissey might have been looking for a little more than her eventual 72:58 a couple of places behind.

The main race was reeled out on an identical pattern to the men’s as eventual victor Firehiwot Dado (ETH) swept beyond long-time leader Kim Smith (NZL), a fervent front-runner, in the late stages to clinch a thorough win in a PB of her own of 68:35 against the latter’s 68:43 into the wind, establishing a successful line on the back of her marathon triumph in the same surroundings last autumn.

Home favourite Kara Goucher was third in 69:12 well ahead of Dutch Hilda Kibet (69:42) and Janet Cherobon Bawcom (USA) drifted home in fifth in 69:55, first time under 70 minutes in her career.

Results

http://web2.nyrrc.org/cgi-bin/htmlos.cgi/25167.1.699246165318191398

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