SIMON Nott smashed his personal best as he retained his Wiltshire half-marathon title at Chippenham, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The Calne Running Club athlete slashed 45 seconds off his PB with a clocking of 68 minutes 4 seconds to go sixth in the South West rankings.

“I knew Chippenham was a reasonable course, and as it also included the Wiltshire and South West Inter Counties Championships, I knew the field would be strong, so it was my target for the autumn,” said Nott.

“I wanted to improve my PB, so I am very happy with how it went and it now leaves me the challenge of running 67 minutes next time.”

The presence of strong teams from Cornwall, Devon and Gloucestershire ensured a brisk pace from the gun, and while Nott couldn’t live with eventual winner Tom Merson, from Exmouth, he was a safe second from Swindon’s Ben Cole.

“I knew Tom would be running a pace much faster than I wanted, so I let him go and focussed on my own race. It worked well, even though I was on my own after the second mile,” added Nott.

“It is nice to win the county title again after claiming five titles last season. That will be something nice to look back on in the future.”

Team Bath’s Gary Dunstone, who lives in Chippenham, was runner-up in the county championships, with Devizes Running Club’s Simon Gilbert third.

Chippenham Harriers’ Emma Hines was crowned Wiltshire women’s champion as she also smashed her PB.

Going into the event, Hines’ PB stood at 89:39 but she carved 1min 25secs off that as she placed 15th overall to continue her good form.

Sidmouth Running Club’s Kirsteen Welsh made it a Devon double as she claimed victory in 80:16.

  • DAMIAN Hall is not the sort of man to settle for a job half done, but in the case of his debut at the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa 105 miles race in the Alps, he was happy to accept it.

It was just before halfway that organisers were forced to stop the race with severe weather coming in over the mountains, threatening the safety of the runners.

Fortunately, Box international ultra-runner Hall, he had already built up an emphatic lead so was pronounced the winner.

“I had reached one of the check-in points in the Italian town of Gressoney when the decision was made to cancel the event,” said Hall.

“It was round about 50 miles into the event and I had been running for 11 hours at that point and was feeling really good and strong.

“In fact, I was already five hours under the course record, so I would like to think I’d have carried on strongly.”

But Hall had no argument with the decision to stop the race, especially as the runners had been warned in advance by the organisers that bad weather was imminent and it might be curtailed.

“When we started, the weather was OK, and while we were told there could be snow on the mountain tops and the temperature could drop to minus four, I felt pretty relaxed about it and was determined just to enjoy the run,” added Hall.

“There was one long section where we had to cross a glacier so had to strap micro spikes to our running shoes. After I went through, the snow started to fall and was covering all the markings, so it became dangerous for all the runners behind.

“It was absolutely the right decision to stop the race because without wanting to sound dramatic, it may have saved lives.

“Obviously there is some disappointment at not being able to finish the race but it feels great to have the win that I wanted, even if it wasn’t the full course.

“It was still a memorable experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”