Valiant Piasecki earns top 12 finish in World Champs Marathon

Jess piasecki coulson

Jess Piasecki finished 12th in the women’s marathon on the morning of day four in Oregon, at the World Championship.

Piasecki (handicap -3.1) battled valiantly to claim GB&NI’s best finish in World Championship women’s marathon since 2013 with 12th in 2:28:41, just the fifth time she has attempted the 26.2-mile event.

Charlotte Purdue (handicap -3.1), Rose Harvey (handicap -0.4) and Piasecki got the British action underway on day four with the women’s marathon scheduled early and were bunched in between tenth and 20th for the first 10km.

Piasecki would quickly kick on, spending over half the race – between the ninth and 42nd kilometre markers – comfortably in the top ten, and as high as seventh as the finish outside the University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium grew closer.

However, she couldn’t hang onto a top-ten finish despite her best efforts, placing 12th in 2:28:41, and looked to put her performance into perspective after the race, despite the initial disappointment.

She said: “The wheels probably came off a little bit, but I gave it a real good go and I quite enjoyed it. It’s my second Championship marathon. I’ve only ever done five marathons, four that I’ve finished, so I’m still learning.

“It’s still such a new event for me. My fuelling was a lot better, but it probably still needs some work because I was seeing spots in the last 5km. I just had to keep moving forward in the last 5km but unfortunately a couple of girls just got me in the last little bit.

“I could not have given any more so what else can I ask for? I look back on it as a real proud moment to race for GB&NI and be part of this great team.”

Teammate Purdue was never lower than 19th early on in her third world marathon but withdrew after 19km, left to rue a rare off day in Oregon. Harvey – like Piasecki in making her world debut – suffered unfortunate luck in having to pull out with cramp just before 26km.

Purdue said: “I’m gutted – I just didn’t feel good. From the start my breathing felt heavy. Everyone has off days and it’s just annoying that I had an off day on the day of the World Champs.

“I woke up and felt fine, felt good all week, training has been going well, so I don’t have any answers at the moment. I’ve been in Flagstaff for five weeks, and I couldn’t have asked for a better build up. I feel fit so I thought I was going to run well.

“I didn’t feel great from 5km but I thought I would build into it. It’s never ideal to run for the British team and drop out but you can’t pick and choose when you have a good day.”

Harvey added, “Obviously a disappointing race today. I felt like I was in great form leading up to it so I felt like I was in PB shape. I was really excited to get to the start line but then less than 3km in I got bad cramp in both my quads which is not what I’ve dealt with before. I managed to push through till 25km but it got worse and my muscles were spasming and I fell over. I tried to get going again but my legs gave away again.

“The rest of this worlds experience has been incredible so I’ll take as many positives away that I can. Thanks for everyone who helped me get here, the support of British Athletics in terms of after the race and their support in the holding camp beforehand.”

Josh Kerr (handicap -6.9) and Jake Wightman  (handicap -6.6) ensured Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be well represented in Tuesday’s men’s 1500m final.

In the first of two semi-finals, Kerr sat in the pack with Neil Gourley (handicap -6.7) and waited for his chance.

The Olympic bronze medallist pierced through traffic on the home straight to win the heat in a leisurely 3:36.92.

Kerr said: “It was just being patient. I knew I had a lot of gears left in that 100 and I could have worked too hard to find the gap, I just waited for it to happen.

“I’ve got a medal and I don’t have the best colour, so I want to change that. I’m not here to come second or third, I’m here to win.”

There was disappointment for Gourley who, despite a lunge on the line that saw him collide with USA’s John Gregorek, finished just outside auto qualification in sixth.

Gourley said: “I was proud that I fought, and I was close. I fell in the last few metres and maybe if I hadn’t lost that momentum I would have crossed the line in fifth, but it’s fine margins.”

Jake Wightman (handicap -6.8) safely negotiated the quicker of the two semi-finals, running a measured 3:34.48 for third.

The UK champion settled in comfortably behind Kenya’s Abel Kipsang and USA’s Stewart McSweyn who bounded out in front, and safely advanced to a second global final.

Wightman said: “The plan was just to get through as effortlessly as possible which I’m trying to do at the moment so it’s about being safe and being able to relax a little bit in rounds like this.”

Overnight there will be the final of the women’s 1500 featuring Laura Muir (handicap -3.1) who chases a podium position with a best time of 3:54.5, the third fastest in the final.