Chris Gay runs 2:39 in Dorney Marathon; Jimmy Smith 2:53

Four Joggers put in some great performances in real, live marathon races over the Easter weekend.

On Good Friday, Angela Brennan (5:05:53, 26th of 46 overall, 9th Female of 19) and Lisa Jennings (5:16:25, 30th, 11th F) both took on the Suffolk Running Centre (SRC) Kirtling Marathon, starting and finishing at SRC headquarters in the village of Barrow, near Bury St Edmunds. This 100% road route included over 1,100ft (340m) of climb, continually undulating the whole way. It is believed to be Angela Brennan’s first ever marathon attempt, so this is a great achievement for her. She has been on a steady upgrade since 2017 and has completed two official road half marathons, with a PB of 2:15:38 at Cambridge in March 2020, one of the last races to be staged before the first lockdown. Lisa Jennings enjoys endurance challenges, including ultramarathons, but this was only her second known marathon attempt, so a very good result for her and a big PB, compared with her 5:56:58 in the Kyodo Archer SRC Marathon in 2019. Unfortunately, the SRC marathon performances are not officially listed on or its sister website

View along the SRC Kirtling Marathon route

On Easter Saturday, Chris Gay (2:39:50, 32nd of 439 overall) and Jimmy Smith (2:53:19, 98th, 36th M40 of 115) put in sterling performances in the Dorney Marathon at Dorney Lake, near Windsor, close by the River Thames. It was a high class field, with 155 runners completing in under 3 hours and a winning time of 2:25 for men, 2:52 for women. Last October, also at Dorney Lake, Chris Gay had gone under 2:40 in a marathon for the first time, gaining a PB of 2:39:42. This time his target was an ambitious 2:35 and he started off at a tremendous pace, around 5:55 min/mi (3:40/km). In the end his pace slipped and he had to dig deep towards the finish, posting a time just 8 seconds outside his PB; still a great performance. Crucially, this time should secure a Championship Entry for Gay in the VLM 2022. This would give him a quicker, less crowded start, together with athletes of a similar ability.

Chris Gay in Cambridge HM

Jimmy Smith felt confident and in good shape coming up to this race, despite the dearth of real race opportunities over the past year. He had every right to be. His marathon PB stands at 2:38:06 in the VLM 2017 and he has already completed the Six Major Marathons at London, Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago, Boston and New York, all bar one in under 3 hours. He did manage one real multi-lap marathon at the Goodwood Running Grand Prix in December last year, where he clocked a very decent 2:52:06. He also managed an impressive solo 2:49:41 in the virtual VLM 2020, on a rainy, hilly, local route last October, so was no doubt looking forward to upping the gears on the flat Dorney Lake multi-lap course. Jimmy started like a greyhound out of the stalls but, like Chris Gay, had to summon up all his resources when his pace began to slide after about 7 miles. He bravely dug in deep to achieve a very commendable 2:53:19, even though he had hoped to be safely into the 2:40s. His time in this race, together with his Goodwood marathon last year, and his virtual VLM 2020, are his three best marathon times since 2018, so plenty of room for optimism. Hopefully, he and Chris Gay can get their just deserts in the VLM 2021 in October.

Jimmy Smith running his PB Marathon of 2:38:06 in the VLM 2017. Thanks to Jimmy. One of his album of marathon photos.

In addition to the above, the Joggers had one more marathon runner on Sunday 11th April. Jeremy Reader took on the Virtual ‘Feel The Spring’ Paris Marathon and finished in a courageous 5:07:14, choosing a circular local route around the Cambridgeshire and Suffolk villages. It was the same route he completed for the Virtual VLM 2020, when he clocked 4:33:21. He had hardly run in the previous month, and admitted he wasn’t at his best level of fitness. Like Chris Gay and Jimmy Smith, he had to dig very deep in the closing stages but stuck it out bravely to the finish. He has a highly respectable marathon PB of 3:47:39 at Kingston upon Thames, in the Nuffield Running Festival 2016. Apologies for originally believing his PB was 4:01 in the VLM 2011, as shown on Power of 10.

Above: Jeremy Reader in the Feel the Spring virtual Paris Marathon.
Thanks to Jeremy for publishing on Strava.