By Owen Morgan
There were walking and running personal bests for Welsh athletes at the Elite Only Winter 10K events in Newport on Saturday.
Heather Lewis clocked a new 10,000m personal best of 46:44.77 to win the women’s race walk, despite having to spend time in the sin bin.
Meanwhile, Cardiff’s Clara Evans clocked a massive new PB of 32:49.01 as she finished third in the 10,000m behind the winner Lilly Partridge and club mate Jenny Nesbitt.
The women’s race walk had been billed as a battle between two of Britain’s best – Pembrokeshire Harrier Lewis and Cardiff Athletics’ Bethan Davies.
The two Welsh athletes have dominated the domestic scene in recent years and were using Saturday’s race as preparation for the Olympic race walk trials to be held at London’s Kew Gardens later this month.
Lewis is a former British champion and the current Welsh Champion over 5,000m, while Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist Davies was the 2019 British Champion over 5,000m.
It was Lewis who dominated proceedings on Saturday opening up a substantial lead over the rest of the field.
However, there was drama late in the race as Lewis was temporarily sent to the sin bin to sit out a 60 second penalty, while Davies was disqualified under race walking’s strict technique rules.
Lewis’s enforced rest meant she narrowly missed out on an early opportunity to claim the 2022 Commonwealth Games qualifying time of 46:00.
In the men’s race, England’s Callum Wilkinson set a new UK record of 39:05.85.
Earlier in the afternoon, British Olympic marathon hopeful Partridge, of Birchfield Harriers, produced an excellent performance to win the women’s 10,000m in 32:33.16.
During the early stages of the race Cardiff Athletics’ Charlotte Arter, Nesbitt, Evans and Partridge made the pace, which was on target for the 2022 Commonwealth Games qualification standard of 32:30.
— Jenny Nesbitt (@jennynesbitt) March 6, 2021
The pace slowed a little during the second half of the race, during which Arter, who is preparing for the Olympic Marathon Trial in London’s Kew Gardens later this month, dropped out.
Partridge, also fine tuning for London, pulled clear from the pack to claim the win ahead of Nesbitt, who clocked a time of 32:44.26 – just outside her PB but still within striking distance of the Commonwealth Games qualifying time.
Evans’ new PB easily surpassed her previous best of 36:30.35 set at Highgate in 2017 by almost four minutes.