Athletics: Ross-Cope back on track
BRITISH international marathon runner Michelle Ross-Cope returned to competition with a brilliant win in the Shell Four Villages Helsby half-marathon in Cheshire.
In her first event since finishing sixth in the Commonwealth Games marathon last year, the 38-year-old City of Stoke AC international, from Waterhayes, moved into the lead from the start.
Ross-Cope cruised comfortably to victory in 74 minutes 29 seconds, a time 33 seconds faster than her winning performance last year.
Ross Cope said: "I am pretty pleased with the result and relieved as I had not raced since the Commonwealth Games.
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"It was a bit scary before the start not being sure where my fitness level was. Obviously it was necessary to take a break after the Commonwealth marathon and the long, hard season, so November was just easy running.
"Come December, an old injury returned and then I picked up a sickness bug followed by the flu.
"I have only done about five real training sessions and the rest has been just easy running, which makes it nice to get a win. I just decided to go for it and I felt good."
Ross-Cope flies off to Kenya on Monday for three weeks of altitude training, meaning she misses the defence of her Asics Alsager 5 crown on Sunday, February 6.
Her aim is then to run in the Brighton marathon on Sunday, April 10, instead of the following week's London marathon.
She added: "I have been invited to Brighton, and as I have done London before I thought it would make a nice change."
Stone policeman Ben Gamble was also part of a high class Four Villages field for the men's race, which was eventually won by Neil Renault, of Edinburgh AC, in the fast time of 65.54.
He finished 11 seconds clear of Gamble's Tipton Harrier team-mate Michael Aspinall.
Gamble eventually finished fourth in a time of 67.41, just seven seconds behind the experienced Dave Norman of Altrincham and District AC.
ULTRA-distance runner Adela Salt, left, produced an excellent winning performance in the Gloucester 50km road race to gain international selection.
The Trentham Running club star now joins the England team for March's Anglo-Celtic Plate 100km race.
The Gloucester race was run over four laps of undulating country roads.
Salt opened at a controlled pace to contest the early lead with main rival Karen Rushton (Southampton).
She hit the accelerator midway through the third circuit to establish a 30-second advantage going into the final lap.
Salt increased the paceto eventually win the race in 3:37.8 – an impressive four minutes clear of second-placed Rushton.
Salt said: "I am really pleased as it is the first race I have won for a while. It was not as tough as I thought it might be, and I decided to go for it with 13 miles remaining.
"Being on a lap course the hills became more difficult towards the end and was taking it out of me, but I managed to hold on."