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A challenging trip for English visitors

Bonding experience: Steel claimed victory in both the 10k and half-marathon races (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Bermuda race officials and host families came in for praise from England Athletics after six of their members had a successful Bermuda Marathon Weekend.

Gemma Steel led the English charge, winning both the women’s 10K on Saturday and half-marathon on Sunday.

The six ­— Steel, Scott Overall, Alex Teuten, Matthew Sharp, Jenny Spink and Rebecca Moore — were selected after the Great South Run [England ten-mile Road Championships] in October and were accompanied to Bermuda by Mark Brace, team leader and area coach.

The Bermuda Marathon weekend is a unique event with local hospitality helping to make the English visitors feel extremely welcome.

“The whole experience has been excellent, I cannot thank enough the host families that made our athletes so welcome,” Brace said.

Steel, the 2014 European cross-country champion, clocked 33min 56.94sec in the 10k and 1:14.26 in the half-marathon to jump to the top of the 2017 UK rankings.

Her team-mates Spink, of Bristol & West Club, and Moore, of Chichester Club and Cambridge University, ensured it was clean sweep of the medals for the women in the 10k, with Spink finishing second in 34:33.23 and Moore taking third spot in 35:41.42.

In the men’s competition Overall, of Blackheath & Bromley Club, battled hard to replicate Steel’s double gold, but eventually had to settle for two silvers behind Ethiopia’s Diriba Degefa Yigezu.

It was a closer race over the 10k distance with Yigezu finishing in 30:04.67, and Overall close behind in 30:18.45.

He was backed up by Teuten of City, of Portsmouth Club and Southampton University, and Matt Sharp of Enfield & Haringey Club, who took third and fourth places respectively in 30:23.93 and 30:29:98.

Teuten, a relative newcomer to road racing, had two personal bests in two days for Teuten who added a second bronze medal to his 10k with another third place in the half-marathon in a time of 1:07.04.

One of the aims of the England Athletics Road Running Internationals is to help athletes develop by broadening their experiences.

Moore summed up her Bermuda experience by saying: “The tough courses proved a nice challenge and a good opportunity to focus on the racing itself.

“It has certainly helped me learn to adjust to different conditions.

“The team, despite having never met, bonded and made the most of all the opportunities given from the start.

“It was a great and diverse mix of athletes, and as one of the less experienced I felt it has helped me develop personally and be ready for more international competition.”