Anna Bracegirdle crosses the line at last year's Snowdonia Marathon. Pic: Snowdonia Marathon.

Anna Bracegirdle Sets Her Marathon Personal Best . . . Causing A Headache For The Welsh Selectors

By Rob Carbon

Anna Bracegirdle rocketed up to seventh in the all-time Welsh women’s marathon rankings as she notched a six-minute personal best time in the Manchester Marathon at the weekend. 

 The Liverpool radiographer’s time of 2:34.22 took her inside the consideration time for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer and gave the team Wales selectors a bit of a headache. Now they have four athletes to consider as she joined Welsh record holder Natasha Cockram (2:30.03), Clara Evans (2.31.17) and Rosie Edwards (2:32.56) among the ‘possibles’. 

She has come a long way in a short time after clocking 3:04.01 on her marathon debut in Liverpool in 2017. Since then the 29-year-old has got faster and faster, especially since inviting James Thie to coach her. 

She won the Snowdonia Marathon in 2018 (3:05.33), finished second there a year later (3:09.54), took second in Liverpool in 2019 (2:52.39) and a month later was third in Liverpool (2:59.26). In 2021 her times reduced even further with a ninth place at the Cheshire Elite Marathon and then in a win in Manchester (2:40.17).

Back-to-back half-marathon wins earlier this year set-up the Bangor-born runner for her bid for Commonwealth selection and she sailed to a sixth-placed finish in Manchester behind Becky Briggs, who won in 2:29.06. 

 “It is incredible to think that she has taken 10 minutes off her marathon pb in just over a year. She is a dream to coach because she listens to what you say and then goes out and does it,” said two-time Welsh Commonwealth Games competitor, Thie.

“She was looking around for a coach and asked me if I could help her. She needed some structure in her training and, even though it has been a long-distance relationship, it has worked pretty well so far.

“The great thing is there is so much more to come from her. Her basic speed needs improving and if we can work on that she will get even better.

“She has an amazing engine and she is courageous. She went out in 75:26, which was close to her best over the half-marathon, and then ran strongly to the end.

“Welsh distance running is going through a real boom period and to have four Welsh women under the consideration time for the marathon for this year’s Commonwealth Games is remarkable.”

Thie always believed his new charge could run 2:37, but she exceeded his expectations at the weekend. Now he is planning for something even faster in the future – potentially in Birmingham!

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