Neil Renault admitted he stunned himself by snatching second place in yesterday’s Edinburgh Marathon as the winds in East Lothian hampered several of his African rivals.
The Scotland internationalist, 30, kept his cool as others froze to earn the prize bonus for ending up as the first Briton home in 2:24:36 – exactly five minutes behind race winner Peter Wanjiru of Kenya.
A week after taking victory in the Kirkcudbright Half-Marathon, and just five weeks after running 2:20 in London, in-form Renault could not believe his luck as he picked off his rivals one by one as the closing stages unfolded to end up on the podium at the finish in Musselburgh.
“You always convince yourself that you are slowing down more than anyone else,” the Edinburgh Athletic Club specialist said. “But it turns out I was running faster.
“It was a good field and the guys really struggled in the wind. I’m from here. I knew exactly what the course was like. I am training out here all the time. You have to respect the conditions.
“I factored that into my plan. I sacrificed a bit of speed at the start knowing I needed to be a bit stronger in the second half into the wind. I’ll look back and this will be one of the ones I remember.”
He was one spot ahead of 2014 winner David Toniok who faded badly after challenging Wanjiru for the lead until the 18-mile point. But even the eventual winner was forced to push himself to the limit to avoid a similar fate.
“After 30k I decided to move,” Wanjiru said. “The last mile was very difficult, the wind was blocking me. I even had to stop.”
It was a Kenyan double in the elite races as Joan Kigen took the women’s title in 2:39:43 with the 37-year-old well clear of English duo Charlotte Firth and Samantha Amend.
“It was hard because it was so windy,” she said. “Around 16 miles, it was tough. But I am very happy to win.”
The USA’s Thomas Porter (1:08.58) and Kilbarchan’s Gemma Rankin (1:17.21) won the adjoining Edinburgh half-marathon with organisers estimating more than 30,000 runners took part in the Marathon Festival over its two days.
Ryan Beattie (Falkirk Harriers) and Karen Kennedy (Carnegie Harriers) won the EMF10k with Jordan Chapman (Aberdeen AAC) and Katie Macaskill landing the 5k titles.