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Lymington Athletes and New Forest Runners members post PBs and reach milestones ahead of next year’s London Marathon

A HOST of local runners have posted impressive times and reached personal milestones, with some earning places in next year's London Marathon.

The pick of the bunch was Alastair Pickburn, whose time of two hours and 37 minutes at the Manchester Marathon earned him a start in the Marathon National Championships at the 2024 London Marathon after a four-year break.

New Forest Runners' Alastair Pickburn
New Forest Runners' Alastair Pickburn

His qualification is all the more impressive after organisers raised the standard from two hours and 45 minutes by five minutes. Pickburn's marathon personal best stands at two hours and 24 minutes.

Lymington Athletes founder Valeria Sesto will also line up for the Marathon National Championships next year after gaining a qualifying time in last November's Gosport Half Marathon, crossing the line in one hour and 24 minutes.

She posted another sub-one hour and 28 minutes half-marathon – the qualifying time for the women's Marathon National Championships – while winning her age group at Weymouth Half Marathon in one hour and 25 minutes.

A delighted Valeria Sesto after winning her age category at the Weymouth Half Marathon
A delighted Valeria Sesto after winning her age category at the Weymouth Half Marathon

The long-distance specialist, who recently won Inter-County National 20-mile Championships gold with her Hampshire teammates, said: "I am very proud to have achieved this at 50 years old while being a little bit menopausal.

"After at least five years of not racing short road races, my times from three half marathons have qualified me for the championships."

Also at the very flat Manchester Marathon were New Forest Runners members Julian Smith and Katy Stephenson.

Smith completed the 26.2 miles in three hours and 42 minutes, while Stephenson crossed the line with a massive personal best, shaving 15 minutes off her previous best to earn a qualifying time for a Good For Age entry at the London Marathon 2024.

New Forest Runners Katy Stephenson and Julian Smith
New Forest Runners Katy Stephenson and Julian Smith

She was especially proud after returning to running last year after a traumatic birth of her second daughter two years ago and a subsequent surgery.

Stephenson, who Lymington-based Sesto coaches, commented: "I was told I would never run again. Well, here I am, achieving PBs I never imagined I could!"

Another local success was Lymington Athletes Mark Sampson ran a personal best of three hours and 32 minutes at the Brighton Marathon.

More Lymington Athletes members were in action outside of the marathon distance races, with mother of three Catherine McGuire heading to Devon to race nine miles through the woods, rivers and mud and Nigel Smith running a half marathon in Wokingham.

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