By Owen Morgan
Caryl Jones produced a gutsy season’s best performance to help Great Britain to a hugely creditable fourth place in the European Athletics Championship marathon team event on Sunday morning.
The five-woman GB team lost their two fastest runners – Charlotte Purdue and Lily Partridge – who pulled out of the race after 10km and 25kms respectively.
Their withdrawals meant the remaining three athletes – Jones, Tracy Barlow and Sonia Samuels – all had to finish in order to register a time for the GB team.
Despite being reduced to just three competitors, the British women were just edged out of the bronze medal by Spain.
Barlow, who won the Swansea half marathon earlier this year, was the top finishing Brit in 15th place in a time of 2:35.00 with Samuels next in 21st in 2:37.36.
Jones, who juggles her 100-mile-a-week training regime with the demands of working on the family farm in Pembrokeshire and a job as an accountant, was the third British runner home in 2:40.41.
Her performance was a season’s best time, beating the 2:43:58 she clocked finishing eighth at the Commonwealth Games in Australia earlier this year.
The Swansea Harrier admitted the intense heat of the Gold Coast marathon had taken its toll on her, but she produced another courageous run in warm conditions on the streets of Berlin.
Clearly exhausted at the finish line, where she had to be helped away by medics, Jones had been determined to finish and ensure the British team registered a time in the team race.
The 31-year-old said afterwards: “It was another hot marathon, not as hot as Gold Coast, but it got hot towards the end.
“I think I raced it tactically well, but on the last lap I got a bit excited and pushed on too soon and I paid for it in the last three or four kilometres. I had to keep going and it is nice to put on a GB vest again and finish.
“I didn’t really die but I lost a few minutes in the last few kilometres. It has been a hard build up after Gold Coast, which was so hot and I was really tired after that. I am glad I raced and hope I did everyone in Wales proud.”
“I was so honoured to be selected with the other girls because they are so fantastic.”The overall race was won by Volha Mazuronak, of Belarus, who claimed gold despite suffering a spectacular nosebleed in the early stages of the race and taking a wrong turn near the finishing line. Her win helped Belarus to the team gold.