RUTH Barnes was a hugely popular winner of the women’s rlace in the Vitality Bath Half Marathon today, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The doctor, from Bradford on Avon, committed herself from the gun over the two-lap course and had opened a 30-second lead over Stroud’s Rachel Felton by the half-way point.

Barnes paid for that early effort and admitted the last two miles were very hard but she dug deep to stride down Great Pulteney Street to the acclaim of the big crowd and punch the air in delight as she crossed the finish line in a huge personal best time of 1hr 15mins 32secs.

“I am over the moon,” said Barnes, who is a member of Wiltshire club Avon Valley Runners.

Felton also paid for her strong start as she was caught by British international Amy Clements in the closing stages as the Kent AC runner finished strongly to claim second place in 1:15.55 with Felton 15 seconds behind.

The men’s race was won at the third attempt to Ben Fish, of Blackburn Harriers. He also dominated from the gun with only debutant Peter Huck going with him.

Huck’s challenge ended at six miles as Fish surged clear to win comfortably in a time of 65mins 16secs while Huck held his form to finish runner-up over a minute adrift in 66:35. Third was Croydon’s Dominic Nolan in 68:28.

Top local runner was Avon Valley Runners' Rich Ayling, who finished 13th in 71:25, which is also a personal best.