British half-marathon runner follows in the footsteps of father Carl by making the podium at the World Road Running Champs in Riga
Thirty years after her father won bronze at the World Half-Marathon Championships in Brussels, Calli Thackery finished a fine seventh in the women’s event at the inaugural World Road Running Championships in Riga on Sunday (Oct 1).
“It’s 30 years to the day,” said the emotional 30-year-old after finishing first non-African home in a PB of 68:56.
Her dad Carl was third behind Steve Moneghetti of Australia and winner Vincent Rousseau of Belgium in 1993. He also won team bronze that day, plus team silver in 1992 in Newcastle.
Fittingly, Calli led the GB women’s team to bronze in Riga as Samantha Harrison was ninth in 69:26, Clara Evans 22nd in 70:53 and Abbie Donnelly 25th in 71:18.
Up ahead there was a Kenyan sweep of the podium as Peres Jepchirchir took gold in 67:25 from Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi’s 67:26 and Catherine Amanang’ole’s 67:34.
For Jepchirchir, it was her third world half-marathon title and the 30-year-old said: “I wanted to win three times and make history, and thank God I have made it. It was my birthday this week and I told my husband I would work extra hard to get the win.”
Thackery Snr, one of Britain’s leading distance runners in the 1980s and early 1990s, wasn’t in Riga but his daughter said: “He’ll be watching. I thrive off that energy.”
She added tearfully: “He told me the PBs on paper were about two minutes faster than him (in 1993) but he just tried to put himself in it.
“I tried to run in his footsteps here… and I gave it a good go.”
Have her father’s exploits been on her mind during the build up? “Yes, in training and in races I was thinking ‘come on, I’m a Thackery, I can do this!’”
Thackery makes her marathon debut in New York in a fortnight but she is doing a low-key race as opposed to the big Marathon Majors event a few weeks later. “It’s lower key as I just want to get used to the distance,” she said.
Her run in Riga sets her up for a good debut and she said: “I really enjoyed it. I really worked off the course. The atmosphere was really good too.
“I finally feel like a belonged out there. I dug deep.
“We’ve got incredible endurance athletes in the UK and it really pushes you along.”
Harrison did not enjoy her best day, though. “I started off pretty good,” she explained, “but in the last six miles I had really bad stomach issues so it was all about grinding through so I could make that top 10.
“There were points where I thought I’d have to stop but I’m quite tough so I kept going.”
Like Thackery, Evans and Donnelly are also running marathons soon with Evans tackling Valencia in December and Donnelly doing Seville in February.
The Brits also got stuck into the men’s half-marathon with decent results.
Mahamed Mahamed ran his second fastest half-marathon ever with 61:33 in 27th, while Jack Rowe was close behind with 61:39 in 30th despite hitting a mini-wall in the last half mile.
Jonny Mellor probably had the biggest smile, though, as he broke 62 minutes for the first time – just – with 61:59 in 34th. The British team captain was slightly outside his dream target of breaking Geoff Smith’s long-standing club record but with the Valencia Marathon still two months away he went away knowing he is physically in a good place.
Sabastian Sawe led another Kenyan sweep of the medals as he won in 59:10 after passing team-mate Daniel Ebenyo in the latter stages to win by four seconds as Samwel Mailu was third in 59:19.
Sawe and Ebenyo gave each other a salute, too, as they charged through the finish alongside the Daugava River.
Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer finished fourth in 59:22, with France’s Jimmy Gressier fifth in 59:46.
READ MORE: AW’s coverage from Riga 2023
Men’s half-marathon: 1 Sabastian Sawe (KEN) 59:10; 2 Daniel Ebenyo (KEN) 59:14; 3 Samwel Mailu (KEN) 59:19
Women’s half-marathon: 1 Peres Jepchirchir (KEN) 67:25; 2 Margaret Kipkemboi (KEN) 67:26; 3 Catherine Reline (KEN) 67:34
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