Stilton Strider Southam warms up for London Marathon with third Belvoir win

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STILTON Strider Chris Southam believes he his bang on course for another top 100 finish at the London Marathon after edging an epic duel at the Belvoir Half Marathon on Sunday.

Southam has been plagued by injuries over the last 18 months, but is gradually returning to peak condition and pipped rival Thomas Yates to the tape by just 14 seconds. The victory marked a third Belvoir Half title in the last four years for the Long Clawson runner who was forced out of last year’s event.

From the start, it wasn’t long before Southam and Yates were out in front with the Barrow Runner pulling out a small 10-yard gap and maintaining it well until the closing stages.

Southam said: “I could see him all the way round, but couldn’t get across to him until about the 10-mile mark when I could see he was starting to struggle a bit. I went across the gap and had a few goes at getting away, but I didn’t get past until about a mile-and-a-half from home.

“He usually finishes ahead of me in the Leicester League so it was nice to catch him.”

Southam has finished in the top 100 at the London Marathon three times in the last five years and is hoping to clock around 2hr 35mins. On Sunday he finished just 50 seconds outside his half-marathon best with 1hr 13min dead.

But he is just happy to be lining up among the elite athletes again having been sidelined by a succession of problems since picking up a bad knee injury in July 2009.

He added: “In 2009 it was so bad I didn’t think I would be training again let alone running another marathon.”

* Full Belvoir half Marathon report on page 63.