RUTH Barnes has decided to defend her Bath Half Marathon women’s title on Sunday, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The Avon Valley Runner had toyed with the idea of tackling the new London Landmarks Half Marathon race on the same day, with many of the UK’s elite women there to stake a claim for selection for the World Half Marathon Championships in what is the official trials race.

A personal best of 74mins 59secs on her England debut in Spain at the start of February gave Barnes an outside chance of making that GB squad as it was inside the qualifying mark of 75 minutes but since then four other women have gone much quicker and bumped her down to seventh in the UK rankings.

“I have decided to run Bath because going to London would be so much more hassle and to be honest I am now unlikely to get a place in the Worlds anyway,” said Barnes.

“It will be nice to try and retain my title in Bath but my expectations aren’t high. I think it is unlikely I can win it again but who knows I may have a blinder and surprise everyone.”

Until last year Barnes always seemed to struggle with the Bath course and distance but then delivered not only one of the best performance of her career to claim victory.

“If I hadn’t won last year it would have been another awful Bath Half as I felt horrendous,” added Barnes.

“I went off way too fast and I was in agony in the closing miles, I was literally dying. But as my coach (Steve Williams) said psychologically the damage had already been done on my rivals and perhaps they had given up trying to catch me.

“It would be nice to prove to myself that I can run it better than last year and improve upon my time. I learned a good lesson in Spain as I went off steady and only started to push on from halfway so I may go with that tactic in Bath. I have that benchmark so we’ll see.”

Barnes admitted she has just been ticking over since that excellent debut for England in Spain when she finished second overall to carve 33 seconds off her previous best.

“With so little time in-between the two events I decided it was more important to make sure I get to the start line fit and healthy to give myself a chance,” she added.

If she does retain her title she’ll be the first woman to do so since Wales international Hayley Nash claimed back-to-back wins in 1996 and 1997 – 21 years ago.